For Black Kids, Sports Set the Stage for Achievement and Joy

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(Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation students stretch before a performance. Photo Credit: Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation) By Aziah Siid (This story first appeared in Word In Black.) With back-to-school season in full swing, teachers are& getting their classrooms ready, students are buying academic supplies,& and student-athletes are already practicing for upcoming games.& Indeed, whether it’s football, volleyball, cheerleading, cross country, or gymnastics, fall is jam-packed with middle and high school students who are out to win.& But, according to the& NCAA, “Of the nearly 8 million students currently participating in high school athletics in the United States, only 495,000 of them will compete at NCAA schools. And of that group, only a fraction will realize their goal of becoming a professional or Olympic athlete.Bottom of Form So, if they’re not statistically likely to earn a college scholarship or go pro, why encourage Black youth to participate in sports? “I’m a huge believer in what they call Olympism, which means you should be very good in sport, you should understand art, and you should understand education, and you should work the three of them together,” says Wendy Hilliard, founder and CEO of Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation.& In 1979, Hilliard was the first...