Phillip Thomas, a student in the Department of Child and Family Studies in the Falk College, is one of the SU football student-athletes assisting with the Youth Impact Program this summer for boys ages 9-12 from the Syracuse City School District. The five-week program sponsored by Syracuse University Athletics includes SU staff, student-athletes and local elementary teachers . Riki Ellison, Chairman and Founder of the Youth Impact Program (YIP) and a three time Super Bowl winner with the San Francisco 49ers, launched this innovative, national program, now in its fifth year.
The Youth Impact Program at Syracuse University uses football to attract the young boys to come in off of the streets in the summer, and it exposes them to the University and its support structure in their community. Support of the Youth Impact Program is provided by Syracuse University Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor and the NFL Youth Football Fund, the Buffalo Bills and two Syracuse University alumni. The program provides food, clothing, transportation, mathematics, language arts, football, and life skills development to include anger management, conflict resolution, drug education and permanent mentoring relationships between the boys and local teachers, staff and student-athletes of Syracuse University.
In addition to Thomas, other Falk College students involved in this program include: Lew Coker, Dyshawn Davis, Chandler Jones, Nick Lepak, Shamarqo Thomas and Prince Tyson-Gulley.
Syracuse University academic coordinator for football, Joe Fields, is directing the program, which includes classroom work in mathematics, language and writing each morning followed by a life skills sessions, a football chalk talk and a full contact practice session. “Every kid dreams of being a star athlete,” said Henry Wildchack, senior associate athletics director. “We are trying to impress upon the young boys that being that star is step 500 and they are at step 1. They have to concentrate on academics, life skills and teamwork and realize how valuable that is before they can step on the field to succeed as an athlete.”
This integrated partnership between the local community, Syracuse University, the municipality of Syracuse and the NFL strives to make a difference in the lives of young boys that will change communities for the better. The YIP program runs through the month of July with a year-round program to follow where the boys will continue to be monitored and mentored on a monthly basis at Syracuse University. The Youth Impact Program has received a Joint Congressional Resolution for its achievements.