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Archive for the ‘Event’ Category

CI Warriors Football

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013



Against overwhelming odds and a host of challenges, the CI Warriors always came out on top. With 54 students and 6 coaches, the team got off to a late start, yet remained at 2nd place all season long. Because most of the team was from single-parent homes, the coaches oftentimes stood in to provide not only guidance, but transportation, discipline and a listening ear. The team is broken into two age groups: 8-10 and 11 -12. Headed by Shawn White, formerly of the San Diego Riptides, he and the team’s other 5 volunteer coaches were all devoted to pouring their very selves into the students, grooming them for success both on and off the field.

Sonja Eskridge, mother of 11 year old teammate Cameron Eskridge, raves about the devotion Shawn and the other coaches showed to the children on the team. Although the CI Warriors was not Cameron’s first experience with football, it was the first time he understood and fell in love with the game. “Shawn and Coach Eric taught Cameron more than standing on the line and blocking,” says Eskridge. “They actually taught him why he was doing what he was told to do, and it made all the difference. He now loves football because he finally understands it. Now he knows that he can win.” Although Cameron would love to see more funding for uniforms, he says his favorite moment was when he got his very first touchdown.

William McDowell, a 10 year old teammate believes the experience helped him grow academically and as a person. His mother, Joy McDowell, tells of how much more responsible and dedicated her son has become because of his experience on the team. A single mom, she noticed her son would listen to the coaches, take it to heart, and not only apply their advice, but teach it to his little brother. “There are youth that aren’t being exposed to things that Children International has given my son the ability to participate in.” She is grateful for the program and the dedication the coaches showed in going out of their way to help the children involved.

This was the second year for the CI Warriors and this year the team was supported by the CI Warrior Cheerleaders. Although it was started just for fun, Joy McDowell also noted how much her cousin, a member of the cheerleading team, had a lot of fun being involved. “It taught the girls rhythm and responsibility. They are looking forward to next year.”, The CI Warriors function entirely from sponsorship funds. Two of the team’s coaches also had children on the team, and Benson Chu, a team favorite, is UALR-CI’s current Deputy Director. Melody Moore and Vicki Disney, also of UALR-CI, joined the collective effort that went into making this year a success. “I am so thankful for the contribution everyone made to the team.” Says Shawn White, “ I could not have gotten anything accomplished without them.”



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Youth Leadership Retreat

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013


Lifelong friends were made, personal experiences shared, and everyone discovered the power of togetherness during UALR-Children International’s (UALR CI) Youth Leadership Retreat. Held at the 4-H Center just west of Little Rock, this year’s retreat was led by Susannah Beachboard, Youth Education Manager for UALR-CI. Facilitated by an amazing, dynamic team of AmeriCorps members, the retreat focused on giving youth the choice and voice to make positive change for themselves, for one another, and for their community.

The 47 youth attended, with ages ranging from 11-17 years old, representing over 10 different middle and high schools in the Little Rock area. Arriving with different perspectives and life experiences, youth were able to ask one another personal questions, and give peer-to-peer, real-life advice. The youth engaged in group activities that focused on bringing out their natural talents, strengthening their weaknesses and finding their own voice.

Complementing the program’s activities, the young adults also enjoyed canoeing, nature walks and s’mores around the camp fire. “This was a wonderful new experience for my son,” said the mom of one of the campers. “He really came out of his shell and learned how to make friends. We are very grateful for this retreat!”

Step Into the Circle initiated bonding amongst the youth as the participants learned not only trust, but to bolster one another while they disclosed each other’s personal challenges. “I never knew others felt the same as me,” one youth stated after her experience with the sharing circle. The entire weekend proved to the youth how strong and wonderful they really are and that they all have more in common than they realized. “Now I know I’m not alone.”

The Egg Drop proved particularly challenging as the students were charged with protecting the egg (representing feelings) during an 8ft drop armed with only straws and tape. The teams then developed persuasive marketing presentations to explain their protection devices and their effectiveness.

Another group favorite was the Trust Walk during which, working in pairs, blindfolded teammates were led around an obstacle course. In between nervous shrieks and giggles of relief and clumsiness, “guiders” learned to communicate and keep their partner safe, while “walkers” relinquished their sense of control into the trusting hands of their peer.

The new young leaders learned how to more fully love themselves by keeping an “ear” on their hearts, a caring “eye” on their peers, and finding a collective “voice” for making change in their community. They look forward to a spring full of discussions, actions, and friendships.





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UALR-CI’s Paula Rodgers and After School Kids Bring Holiday Cheer to UAMS Cancer Patients

Monday, January 7th, 2013


UALR-CI’s own Paula Rogers, along with children from Wilson Elementary’s Kids Club after school program brought holiday cheer to some lucky patients at the UAMS Cancer institute.  Every year the students complete a community service project, and this year the students chose to decorate holiday coasters, bringing joy to cancer patients undergoing infusion treatment at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.

The holiday coasters were inspired by Paula Rogers, who is herself a two-time breast cancer survivor and an Education Manager at UALR.  “Words can’t express the gratitude I felt when I was a patient at on the receiving end, just to know someone was thinking of me.  When the time came for our Community Service Project, it was on my heart to do the same for the other patients undergoing treatment during the holidays.”

Attached to each coaster was a holiday card, each with words of encouragement, but the kids were even more encouraged.  Tackling the task with as much holiday excitement as they could muster, the kids dove right in and really did a great job.  Fifth graders Felix (5th grade), Asija & Tyler (4t) and Kimia (3rd) joined Ms. Rogers in delivering the coasters to the institute where they were graciously received.  About 70 students from second to the fifth grade participated in the project.  Tyler was all smiles as he ended the day saying “We just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas”.

Over 1.5 million new cancer cases are diagnosed ever year.  The Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute offers comprehensive medical treatment driven by state-of-the-art research to patients from every Arkansas county, all 50 states and about 40 foreign countries.  For more information visit http://www.uamshealth.com/news/?id=5350&sid=1&nid=9681&cid=5.



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Family Fall Festival

Monday, December 17th, 2012


For years, UALR Children International has helped support a strong sense of family, and this year has been no exception. On Saturday, November 17th, UALR CI held its annual Family Fall Festival where hundreds were able to enjoy food, games and prizes. Held at the Bishop Lelodies & Goldie Warren Community Development Center in the heart of Central Little Rock, this year’s festivities incorporated a strong focus on family.

Parents, Greek organizations, church members; over 60 volunteers were on hand to ensure the Festival was a great experience had by all. Top events at the festival included a duck pond, bean bag toss, ring toss, the hula-hoop toss, pin the tail on the donkey and other family favorites. Many families were not only able to bond, but were also able to get Thanksgiving turkeys and much needed winter coats for their children.

Families were encouraged to bond and work together as they moved through a myriad of events, games and excitement. The agency’s “Post Office” aided in ensuring the agency met requirements, Parent Council raised over $350, and the children all had a blast! Everyone pulled together to make sure this year’s event went off without a hitch!

“I really appreciate how families were able to enjoy an afternoon of fun together without the worry of cost to prohibit them,” says Stephanie Jones, Volunteer Manager for UALR CI. “We’re thankful for everyone who pulled together to make the Family Fall Festival a great success.”



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Children International is an affiliate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.