Class is in for Hamilton's sports hall of fame
Initiative puts city's athletic heroes in front of students
By Teri Pecoskie
The Hamilton Spectator (Sept 20, 2012)
The Hamilton Sports Hall of Fame is teaming up with local school boards to launch a program that explores the connection between Hamilton's sports heroes and the community.
“We thought what a springboard this would be to use sport as a vehicle to empower and engage and teach our kids about their roots and who came before them,” said Cecelia Carter-Smith, the retired educator spearheading the project.
A former track and field star and hall of fame inductee, Carter-Smith spent the past year developing the program with Mark Verbeek, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board's fitness and wellness consultant and one-time Hamilton Tiger-Cat.
The plan helps teachers integrate elements of Hamilton's sports legacy into lessons on literacy, geography, history — even art.
And it's not just for the jocks.
“It's not only for kids who are into sport,” said Carter-Smith. “It covers all the bases. It's attractive to every learning style, to every aspect of learning for children.”
The program officially launches with a video presentation at the hall's annual induction dinner at Carmen's Banquet Centre next Tuesday evening. Then in January, it will be rolled out to senior students at R.A. Riddell public school and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Catholic elementary.
If all goes well, the plan is to expand the so-called Pathfinders Project to a pair of high schools next spring. By February 2014, Carter-Smith and her partners hope to expand the initiative across the public and separate boards.
The hall of fame is working with a web developer to generate videos, links and other resources that teachers will be able to tap into online. Educators will also have access to inductee profiles, which could be used to inspire writing assignments, for instance, or a geography lesson on local sports landmarks.
“We have a lot of exciting ideas, but the teachers that will be delivering it are really the creators of the actual lessons. That's what makes it really unique,” said Verbeek, for whom the project holds a special meaning.
“I went through the system and I played professional football here in Hamilton and I never knew about Ray Lewis,” he says, as an example.
Lewis, the first Canadian-born black athlete to represent this country at the Olympics, had to overcome many obstacles, including racism, in pursuit of his goals.
“I was ignorant about my own city,” Verbeek said. “That's tragic to me and we want to stop that from happening.”
Blessed Teresa principal Vito Colella called the initiative “phenomenal.” His students, along with a group from Riddell, recently had a chance to test out the curriculum in a daylong pilot.
“The kids loved it,” said Colella, who also sits on the hall's board of directors and had a hand in the program's conception.
What stands out for him is the project's message of perseverance, “the idea of having an avenue to pursue your dream.
“In Cecelia's case, it was sports. In others, it could be the arts.”
Source: Hamilton Sports Hall of Fametpecoskie@thespec.com
905-526-3368 | @TeriatTheSpec
Students on sports history
The Hamilton Sports Hall of Fame recently tested the program in daylong workshops at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and R.A. Riddell. Here's what students had to say about their local sports heroes:
“It's really inspiring how they just came from Hamilton, because it's not like a big, big city. So we have a chance of becoming something big too.”
~ Jennifer Maki, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
“They started out like us, and they were children like us, amateurs, then they became much more than that.”
~ Christine Llanora, Blessed Teresa of CalcuttaVisit - The Buzz Board