AFC Ann Arbor football partners with high profile names, foundations to create a new youth program in Ypsilanti
YPSILANTI – A new summer youth community program that aims to help children realize big dreams and create opportunities through sport, education and nutrition is coming to Ypsilanti this summer with the help of several well-known names and foundations.
AFC Ann Arbor Football Club, in partnership with Washtenaw My Brother’s Keeper, the Rob Murphy Foundation, the Mighty Oak Project, and the Mike Hart and TayTrain Foundation, founded the Community Leadership Revolution Academy (CLR Academy) to provide additional support to children in the community Access to sports and educational resources.
According to a press release on Tuesday, the CLR Academy will be officially opened on Saturday, June 5th, at 1.30 p.m. in Sycamore Meadows in Ypsilanti.
Residents and members from the surrounding districts can register their children for the free program at the opening. The program is expected to continue every Saturday through August at the same time (12 noon-1: 30 pm) and at any location of the week.
K-8 grade kids learn basic soccer, basketball, and soccer skills, as well as receiving free books and more resources. The program also allows students to sign up as volunteer trainers and receive a scholarship at the end of the program.
WMBK project specialist Jamall Bufford led the creation of the new program. This is an extension of WMBK’s ongoing efforts last fall to provide year-round programs for children in the Ypsilanti community.
“We knew we wanted to bring something similar back once the weather warmed up,” said Bufford. “So CLR is an extension of the work we did in October.”
CLR uses exercise to nurture positive friendships, social trust, a sense of belonging, and team skills development, while also incorporating mindfulness through conversation, breathing techniques, and journaling, according to the press release.
All supplies and equipment will be made available to the participants. CLR will also provide free books to local black writers attendees, which was an intriguing part of the program for Mighty Oak Project Chairman Nick Lacy.
“Many of the lessons learned from exercising include emotional resilience, mental toughness, and positive encounters with new people and perspectives,” said Lacy. “Adding literacy enhances those benefits. We’re also very keen to support local writers and provide relatable characters to our young readers.
“So we’re grateful to the people at Black Stone Bookstore for making some wonderful suggestions. Our goal is for CLR attendees to bring out a new book and a better sense of belonging, self-worth, and confidence. “
Justin Harper, WMBK Steering Committee member, local educator, trainer and community volunteer, will lead the CLR academy.
AFC Ann Arbor Chairman Bilal Saeed worked closely with Bufford and Harper to bring like-minded individuals and organizations led by men of color to serve as strategic partners to anchor the program as per the publication.
The foundations, led by former Eastern Michigan Men basketball coach Rob Murphy, University of Michigan running backs coach Mike Hart, and the New Orleans Saints returning Latavius Murray, as well as AFC Ann Arbors Nonprofit and The Mighty Oak Project, will provide more sports samples participants.
“This is extremely important as we need to let our local black business owners know that success is possible with support from people right in your yard, from people who look like you,” Bufford said in the press release. “We also want our young black and tan boys and girls to see the diverse career opportunities for them, not just as athletes, but also as coaches, coaches, sports managers, mentors, writers, business owners and more.”
Nikki Borgess, Executive Director of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, will also help provide nutritional benefits to participants.
Murphy, who left EMU earlier this year to serve as president and GM of Detroit Pistons’ G-League subsidiary, Motor City Cruise, said he was determined to continue his work in the Ypsilanti community.
“Our intention in creating the [Rob Murphy Foundation] has always been to invest in the Ypsilanti community, ”he said in the press release. “This unique partnership / program is an opportunity to partner with fellowship partners we admire and we hope that the unified approach to youth services can be a blueprint for greater positive impact on young people in Ypsilanti.”
Hart and Murray have worked together for years and merged their foundations in 2020 to make a greater impact in the community.
“Latavius and I are very excited to be working with the CLR Academy,” said Hart. “Youth sports and education programs played a vital role in our lives as we grew up. The programs run by our partners in this academy will give marginalized youth access to sports and resources that they may not otherwise have access to. This approach could change the trajectory of their entire life. We believe in these programs and the benefits they will bring to our community. “