Beat the Streets Model
There is a difference between motivation and inspiration-the first is external and temporary, the second is internal and longer lasting. When a coach can inspire KIDS, causing those KIDS to take ownership of their lives, then teaching and coaching them becomes a lot easier.
When we recruit kids to try out for wrestling, we are looking for all types short, tall and in between. We seek all and that’s where luck comes into the equation. Many boys and girls mature differently-some can handle life and some cannot. That is a paradox that perplexes many adults, but it is an eternal truth. Wrestling can help handle life!
The Need: Why Are At-Risk Youth Failing?
There is an extensive list of factors that contribute to the academic failure of youth from disadvantaged circumstances. Many of these factors are beyond the scope and capacity of the typical community based youth program.
Dr. Reginald Clark’s research suggests there is some important ways after-school programs can affect achievement levels of youth. Clark ’s research demonstrates that an important predictor of these students’ academic performance has to do with how they use their time in school.
Clark has found that low-achieving students spend most of their non-school hours involved in activities that have little benefit to them during their in-school time. High-achieving students, on the other hand, participate in more activities that reinforce the skills and knowledge they are learning in school.
Clark ’s research suggests that after-school programs can enable youth to become high-achieving students by incorporating 25-35 hours of these “fun” but academically beneficial activities that support the school related learning process – known as high-yield learning activities – throughout the daily program schedule.
The Need For Supplemental Educational Opportunities
Clark ’s work exhibits an increasing need for supplemental educational opportunities during non-school hours. Although schools have the primary responsibility for children’s formal education, the academic achievement of youth is influenced by people and institutions outside of the school walls. Families, communities and after-school programs, particularly athletics, have a profound impact on children’s learning. All of these institutions have a collective responsibility to the academic development of children.
Thus, supplemental opportunities for enhanced learning and reinforced application of these skills are needed beyond the school – in the home, in the community, after school, in the evenings, on weekends and during summer vacations. Carnegie’s Task Force on Learning in the Early Grades recommends that communities improve local after-school programs to ensure linkages to children’s curricula in school. Finally, recent research, synthesized by the U.S. Department of Education, documents that after-school programs can improve educational outcomes for school-age youth. Their report states that after-school programs can:
- Increase achievement in math, reading and other subjects.
- Help children develop greater confidence in their academic abilities.
- Increase school attendance rates.
- Improve the quantity and quality of completed homework.
- Improve rates of high school graduation.
- Improve behavior of students.
Although America ’s youth are not achieving national standards of education, all is not lost. Research suggests that positive learning opportunities in primary and middle school years, coupled with appropriate, healthy after school activities such as wrestling, can have a substantial effect on the learning pattern throughout a youth’s school years. Moreover, these positive learning opportunities can be organized effectively during non-school hours and in informal settings. An important aspect of these informal, out-of-school learning opportunities is their continuity to the skills and information needed for success in the school. The program we have developed outlines a set of steps to provide these opportunities for at-risk youth in the large urban centers of America..
Responding to the Need
Beat the Streets USA Wrestling recognizes that is has not only an opportunity, but also a responsibility to contribute to the 25-35 after school fun hours referenced above.
The initiative model that we have developed successfully in New York City was a result of many individuals who provided the grants and gave the youth of New York an opportunity to fill a number of those hours in a meaningful, yet fun activity that stimulates the mind and trains the body.
There are over 10,000 high schools in the United States that sponsor schoolboy wrestling in their middle and high school athletic programs. Yet there are only a few schools in the urban centers of the United States that sponsor wrestling. None of these programs is considered to be of a caliber to consistently perform at a level that is competitive with the programs at many of the neighboring suburban schools.
As a result, the sport is, at best, regarded as secondary to the big three: basketball, baseball and football. The problem here is that the big three all lend themselves to a finite number of participants with very specific skills and physical attributes. Wrestling, on the other hand, has had a long tradition of successful participants of all skill levels and attributes and, more recently, genders.
Our plan is to develop a program that can be implemented at the grammar and middle school age level, utilizing established community based organizations and after school programs to foster an affinity for the sport that will create a grass roots groundswell to establish new high school programs and improve existing ones when the participants reach high school age.
We don’t kid ourselves. We recognize that the success of this project is one that will be measured over years, not days, weeks or months. But we believe that by instilling a love for the sport at an early age, its benefits will become obvious to educators and the public in such a way as to leave no choice but to invest in its continuing development.
There has never been a time in recent history when the lessons learned in Sport, particularly the sport of wrestling, have come to the front pages of the American press. The tragedy of September 11th has many heroes and has put many of our public figures in the spotlight.
Fire Chief Ray Downey was one of the first victims identified in the collapse of the World Trade Center . The Downey family, under Ray’s guidance, made significant contributions to the wrestling community since the 70’s. Ray was a local leader for the New York Chapter of USA Wrestling and Ray, Jr., following a successful high school and college career, continues to coach at the high school level to this day. Ray was out of the building with Mayor Giuliani and went back in to try to rescue more victims.
The wife of Jeremy Glick, one of the heroes of the Flight that crashed in Pennsylvania , has credited her late husband’s ability to act in thwarting the highjackers attempt to fly that plane into some building in Washington to his training in sports, in particular wrestling.
Over the years, wrestlers have made their marks on many different segments of society. The common thread seems to be that they all attribute great portions of their success to the lessons learned in the one on one nature of the sport: self-reliance and self-responsibility.
Beat the Streets USA Wrestling will take the lead role to develop the successful completion of the template of the project in the following manner:
- Assign the staff to execute a template that we have developed for the implementation of the program.
- Utilize its network of volunteer administrators, athletes, officials and others to contribute to the development effort.
- Utilize USA Wrestling, the National Governing Body for the sport of wrestling, and the local state affiliate to promote and market the program, making the public aware of the benefits of this project.
Benefits to the Participants
- Individualized, structured learning experience
- Improved attitude toward learning in the school and the sponsoring after school program.
- Self-paced and self-directed learning
- Practical application of skills taught in the classroom
- Improved self-esteem
- Improved grades in school
- Improved behavior
- Introduction of a new sport for life
- Sense of achievement and accomplishment in sport tied into participation in an Olympic Sport