LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Louisville organization is trying to help at-risk student-athletes make the most of their talent. It's part of a mentoring program created to keep student-athletes on the right track. That includes the classroom, athletic field and the community.
And according to some of the parents connected to the program, it’s working.
Jackie Jewell has a 17-year-old son — a talented high school basketball player — and a 9-year-old son, who hopes to follow in his brother's footsteps.
"It's something positive for them to do," Jewell said.
She said the Delta Foundation and its CEO have been a game-changer for her sons.
"He basically took something that our kids love to do — the game of basketball — to bring them into the facility," Jewell said.
Jewell is proud of her sons' athletic accomplishments, but she wants to make sure they both stay on the right track. That’s why she got them involved in the mentoring program.
"DELTA actually stands for Developing Educational Leaders Through Athletics," said Jason Scrubb, assistant director of the Delta Foundation. "Our main focus is education, but we use basketball as one of the hooks or draws to the program."
The organization was founded by a former Jefferson County Public Schools teacher and coach, Wes Hinton. Last weekend, Hinton and a colleague combined resources and talked to students at a basketball camp.
"It's one of those things, as you said, two heads are better than one," Scrubb said.
The program is housed inside the Creation Center in the Portland neighborhood. As Scrubb said, The gymnasium and basketball are part of the draw, but they're not the main focus.
Gary McCawley, academic coordinator of the Delta Foundation and a former school teacher, spent Friday setting up the computer lab for "Hoops and Homework," an after-school program that helps students on the court and in the classroom. McCawley admits it’s not always easy motivating the youth but said that comes with the territory. “We see some pushback sometimes, and I think that’s natural.”
McCawley says they can often read the faces of students who are having a bad day. He said, “We try to be a little pro-active and say, ‘hey, you’re not looking like your normal self today, what’s going on?’ and a lot of times, it takes a little bit, but a lot of the kids will open up and let us know what’s going on. And if we have to do a one-on-one talk with them, that’s what we’ll do.”
“You can make mistakes and you can recover from them,” Scrubb said.
Scrubb said a poster of his son, hanging on the walls of the gymnasium, is proof of that.
"He just recently made it to the NBA," Scrubb said of Jay Scrubb. “Selected No. 55 in the 2020 Draft."
Jewell’s oldest son in a candidate for Mr. Basketball in Kentucky and full of confidence, and after a few years in the mentoring program, she’s seeing positive changes in her youngest son.
“I've noticed that his confident level has really boosted," she said. "He's a little more focused in school as well. And I think he's a little more prepared from participating in the program."
In fact, after witnessing positive results with her sons, Jewell brought two of her nephews to the Delta Foundation.
"I've seen a change in all of them," she said.
The program is funded through grants and donations and is free to anyone who wants to come. But the youth are expected to participate in community service projects.
“I definitely believe in paying it forward," Jewell said.
Every week, more than 100 youth come through the doors of The Creation Center. The “Hoops and Homework” program starts in just a few days, but the people in charge of the program said they have long-term goals and plans for the youth.
"We have this kind of well-rounded approach to helping our kids get through,” Scrubb said. “Every year, we are going to see how many kids we are able to graduate above a certain GPA, how many Cs that we can turn to Bs, how many Bs we can turn to an A."
To find out how you can get your child involved or make a donation to the Delta Foundation, click here.
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