Special to the Opelika Observer
Forty-six children and volunteers from Project Uplift gathered together recently and enjoyed “It’s a Movie Night,” sponsored by the professional women track and field athletes training in Auburn. The feature film was “Wreck-It Ralph” and the kids loved watching Ralph fight to break his video game villain stereotype and learn to appreciate and love the hero within himself. The professional athletes provided the popcorn, nachos, juice and water so essential to kids’ enjoyment of the movie. Their enjoyment was evident in their facial expressions, excitement and stuffed tummies
These amazing athletes and others like them help Project Uplift achieve its goal of reducing and preventing juvenile delinquency by providing safe positive activities for area children to participate in. Project Uplift personnel are extremely grateful for efforts such as this one. The program could not have continued to function for the past 40 years without the continued support of community groups, organizations and influential leaders.
The Professional Track and Field Athletes of Auburn include:
Kerron Stewart (Jamaica) – Silver medalist at the 2008 Olympics in the 100 meters and bronze medalist at the 2008 Olympics in 200 meters.
Nivea Smith (Bahamas) – First Bahamian to medal at the 2007 World Youth Games.
Sheniqua Ferguson (Bahamas) – World Junior Champion in 2008 in the 200 meters.
Anthonique Strachan (Bahamas) – Professional athlete at 17 years of age, Puma Rising Star Award; 2012 Best Junior in the World Award; and 2011 CARIFTA gold medalist 100 and 200 meters.
Kimberley Laing (Jamaica) – 2010 SEC champion in 100 meter hurdles.
Bianca Stuart (Bahamas) – Bahamas national record holder in the long jump, 22 feet 4.25 inches.
Project Uplift is a program of the Lee County Youth Development Center. Its main goal is helping children develop constructive, happy lives so that juvenile delinquency in the county will decrease. Project Uplift is similar to the big brother/big sister program in that children and volunteers establish a one-to-one relationship. These relationships help the children build self-esteem, so that they are better equipped to make good choices and grow into happy, productive adults.
The children in the program are between the ages of 5 and 12 and share common problems and characteristics such as single parent homes, low incomes, unmet basic needs, school problems, no organized after-school activities, family problems, personality dysfunction, trauma or may be at serious risk for delinquency, pregnancy, drugs and gangs.