Howard Receives National SAAC Award of Excellence
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Howard University Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) received the spring 2010 National SAAC Award of Excellence, as announced on Tuesday by the NCAA and the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
The Award of Excellence honors special and unique community-service work completed by student-athletes at Division I schools.
Howard’s SAAC Committee was cited for its participation in The Grassroots Project, a program that educates children ages 10 to 14 about the dangers of HIV and AIDS. Bison student-athletes, along with student-athletes from Georgetown and George Washington universities, helped form The Grassroot Project and all three schools were honored as a joint submission from the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
National SAAC Chair Nick Fulton, a former swimming student-athlete at Wisconsin, said the group that selected the winners was impressed with the three SAACs’ ability to work together.
At HU, the project’s participants are known as Grassroot Bison. 26 Howard student-athletes from nine sports participated in the program this semester including DeAndre Henderson, a junior on the Howard men’s track & field team.
“This semester, we mentored students from Garnet-Patterson Middle School (formerly Shaw Middle School),” Henderson said. “I truly enjoy being involved with such a positive program.”
The project’s beginnings can be traced back to Tyler Spencer, a rower at Georgetown. Spencer started Grassroot Hoyas with 40 athletes from his school and began the program in three schools. The project grew to GW and Howard universities and now reaches out to young people in 18 schools.
The program hopes to expand to the five other NCAA Division I institutions in the D.C. metropolitan area.
“I am extremely proud of the work our student-athletes have done to establish the Grassroot Project at Howard University this semester,” said Alexiss Robinson, Howard’s SAAC Advisor. “Our student-athletes rave about the excitement of Grassroot Bison and the rewarding experience it brings in serving the community. We are very excited about the outcome of our program’s first year experiences and are looking forward to expanding Grassroot Bison next year.”
The Grassroot Project held a graduation for its 100 program participants on May 3. For Henderson, the program has been very beneficial.
“We are hoping that sports can be used to influence social change,” Henderson elaborated. “It is our wish that the students will use the curriculum to combat the high rate of HIV/AIDS in D.C.”
Sacred Heart University also received the spring 2010 National SAAC Award of Excellence for its work with the Dunbar School, a K-8 school in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
The Division I SAAC created the Award of Excellence in 2009 to honor local affiliates for their work in several categories: progress and growth, community service/outreach, sportsmanship initiatives, teamwork, originality and leadership. The award, given twice annually, is intended to bring attention to the good work of student-athletes and also raise the profile of the national committee.
For more information on The Grassroot Project, visit www.grassrootproject.org.