Volleyball foundation sets up free United Academy

POSTED: 03/5/13 1:23 PM

St. Maarten – After more than 20 years of functioning primarily as a recreational club focusing on volleyball teams to participate in the island’s tournaments, the United Volleyball Foundation has expanded its mission to assisting individual members to reach their full potential as members of the United Academy (UA).
The objective of the United Academy is “to introduce youngsters – especially at-risk youth – and to attract more adults to sports, and to identify and further train and nurture talented students who might want to become collegiate or professional athletes,” says former education Minister Dr. Rhoda Arrindell who is spearheading the project. “At the United Academy, all members – young and mature – will receive a strong and balanced preparation in sports, recreation, and academics.”
Arrindell said the athletics program in the pilot project started in January with a 14-week course, which includes intensive weekend trainings with UA Athletics Coordinator, Patricio Bridgewater.
In February, the last part of the project got underway with the testing of students and the start of a college preparatory program called Bridges which aims to close the gap between students’ academic shortcomings and regular college-level courses.
“It is specifically designed to enhance students’ skills in a number of basic subjects such as English, mathematics, computer literacy, financial literacy, and communication,” Arrindell said.
The first Bridges class started on February 25 with over 30 students who will be preparing to sit the GED exams in May. Another 19 students are awaiting the start of the basic classes (adult literacy, social studies, and mathematics) in March, and there are still others on a waiting list.
“While we had expected to register about 15 – 20 students, on the night of the testing, almost 50 persons showed up,” Arrindell said. “For me this means that there are a lot more people out there than we imagined who want the knowledge and access to better education opportunities but can’t afford them.”
All the programs in the United Academy pilot project are offered free of charge to participants and made possible through the assistance of volunteers and private-sector partners.
Students of the American University of the Caribbean have volunteered to tutor United Academy students in math and science. According to Dr. Golden Jackson, AUC’s Director of Service-Learning and Community Affairs, the AUC students wanted to do something as a way of breaking the ice prior to the start of the sessions with the UA students. This became a meet-and-greet activity for participants in the pilot project on February 24. Over 40 people took part in the event, which gave everyone a chance to get to know not just their future tutors, but also the other people participating in other areas of the project.
Other volunteers in the United Academy project so far include the St. Maarten Academy PSVE campus; Community Tutoring Foundation, which provided free evaluation and placement for mathematics; CIFSEF, which provided free classroom space; and Mr. Thurman Thomas.
Want to volunteer? Contact Dr. Rhoda Arrindell at rrarindell@hotmail.com.

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