Number of Participants: 1
Hours Donated: 100
Value of Time Served: $845
Event Type: Children & Youth
Date: June 23, 2023
Kwasi Bonsu is exceptional at bending an opponents’ will on a wrestling mat. It’s how he went 41-3 in matches this season and earned a spot on Newsday’s all-Long Island second team. Off the mat, however, Bonsu is trying to bend the will of a more formidable opponent: the societal pitfalls that surround young people in his community.
Bonsu remains highly-dedicated to his classroom work and the Bruins’ wrestling and football teams. The Duke wrestling commit has taken 11 advanced placement classes, come through with a 113 weighted GPA and scored 1,320 on his SAT – accomplishments that earned him the Jay Fiedler Award as the National Football Foundation’s Nassau Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He was a state wrestling semifinalist at 189 pounds and a ferocious defensive tackle who made 17 tackles for a loss and six sacks last fall.
He is many other things at his school as well: student body president and a summer custodian to name just two. As Baldwin athletic director Dr. Ty Scarlett said “He’s a genuine leader who is involved in every part of the school community, the first person you call when you need anything.”
However, in the community Bonsu has positioned himself as a guidepost for young people. As part of the Athletes Helping Athletes program and a volunteer instructor with the grassroots Baldwin Bombers football program, he seeks to be an example for grade school-aged kids.
“My community service is around making sure I’m building the legacy and setting an example for those little kids to follow,” Bonsu said. “Helping little kids realize the potential they have and how good it’s going to feel when they do the right things, when they really pursue what they’re passionate about, when they don’t give in so all the bad things that can be lurking . . . They’re lessons to be learned young . . . because as soon as they grow up and follow a dark path, it’s going to be harder.”
Bonsu explained that while there were role models for him in his school years, he wished there had been more from the sphere of athletics, where there is potential for great influence. He’d like to see the “old stereotypes about jocks” change so that people realize “high school athletes can be valedictorians or anything they want to be.”
“I get a lot out of working in the community: I get to make sure they’re in a good position when they grow up,” Bonsu said. “I get to make sure that when they think about taking that cup from some random person or smoking something or hitting someone or damaging something or laughing at someone . . . they remember my words and think twice.
“They should say ‘I’m not that type of person (and) I don’t want to become that type of person. I will never sabotage myself in that way.’”
– Roger Rubin