Several students were welcomed at Above and Beyond the Playground (ABP) when it opened up to teens last February in its new location at Evangel Assembly of God, 9920 Good Hope Rd., Milwaukee. One standout student, who went from a GPA of 2.25 to 3.25, is an example of how students are discovering the many benefits of participation in the organization’s programs. During the school year, the Buckle Down program stresses the need for students to not only take advantage of opportunities to improve their basketball skills, but the need for achieving academic success too.
A Messmer High School sophomore this year, Cameron Howard signed up for the program last year when he was searching the internet to find organizations that offered help to improve his basketball skills. He said the pictures on the website drew him in and he realized Above and Beyond the Playground was the best fit for him.
Cameron pointed out that he usually procrastinated in the past when it came to getting his homework done. At ABPs Buckle Down Program he was required to spend at least an hour on homework before working out and playing basketball. He describes a typical session as signing in, eating healthy snacks, including granola and fruit, an hour of homework, an hour of working out with a coach, and playing basketball.
“It was perfect. I for sure got the help that I needed - they make sure you get help,” he says of his experience last semester.
During the school year, Cameron enrolled in the Buckle Down Program on Mondays and Wednesdays under ABPs umbrella of programs. Then on Tuesdays and Thursdays he participated in the Skills and Drills program.
This summer he enrolled in the ABPs third annual Academic and Athletic Institute for Higher Learning. This weeklong overnight camp supports student athletes in a variety of ways. Among the many activities offered, students visited a spring manufacturing company in West Bend, hiked at Pike Lake State Park, and biked on the Oak Leaf trail.
“It was a good week. I learned how to manage my money. I had a lot of mentorship that taught me about staying focused on my journey and the importance of using my brain and athletics,” Cameron shares.
In addition to his involvement with ABP, Cameron works at Culvers Restaurant and participates in the Parklawn Assembly of God’s church youth group. His goal for this year is to improve his GPA to 3.3-3.5. His goal for basketball is 15-20 baskets and he is trying out for the Messmer High School’s basketball team in November. Longterm goals include attending Michigan State University someday or possibly Duke University.