On Monday, January 16, 2017, the Villanova community celebrated the legacy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This year marked the 10th year of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. While the day was an institutional holiday for the University, student-athletes packed their day `off’ hosting students from various schools in Philadelphia as a part of the “Let’s Read. Let’s Move. Philadelphia” campaign. The campaign is sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service and First Lady Michelle Obama.
It is a great tradition for Villanova student-athletes to participate in. Student-athletes from the women’s swimming, women’s basketball, football, and cheerleading teams worked with the Philadelphia youth, showing them drills and games pertaining to each respective sport.
Sophomore football student-athlete, Louis Csaszar explained that “It was an awesome opportunity to give back with my teammates on MLK Day and provide a chance for kids from inner-city Philadelphia to be active and learn basic football skills through the Let’s Move Camps on their day off from school.” Director of Student-Athlete Development Allison Venella worked very hard to put together a day for one hundred children from underrepresented backgrounds and schools to play and learn.
As a whole, the event took teamwork from a variety of departments on campus focused on giving the Philadelphia children an experience they could enjoy.
The feedback from the children participating in the MLK Day of Service was overwhelmingly positive. Nicole Davis, Assistant Director for the Villanova Center for Multicultural Affairs, shared “The opportunity to have youth from the inner city engage with students on a college campus is more than rewarding. It gives students “hope” for their future! One student said to me “I love Villanova”. That is why we continually provide this program every year.”
The Day of Service concluded with a healthy lunch for all of the children who participated in the day’s events. The lunch served as a teaching point, focusing on fun ways to maintain a healthy diet. Student-athletes also talked about positive decision making and the importance of leadership.
Additionally, members of the women’s rowing team volunteered off campus, at Interim House West, a non-profit organization in Philadelphia which works with women and children, as a part of Villanova’s annual MLK Day of Service.