New program to keep kids engaged and learning over summer

AUSTIN (KXAN) — When you’re a kid, the future should be wide open to any dream of being anything you want to be when you grow up. Some kids dream of being a football player, others want to be singers, doctors or lawyers. But for so many young people, circumstances make chances to turn dreams into reality hard to come by.

In parts of East Austin, there are some children who have never even seen the other side of MoPac. And there are concerns the limited exposure can make it harder for them when they head back to school next year, because they will not have as many opportunities to engage their minds.

That is why KXAN has teamed up with the City of Austin Housing Authority this summer, as part of a new initiative called MAPS, or Mentoring Austin’s Potential for Success.

Together, we selected 12 children who all meet A or B honor roll requirements, or attendance requirements at their schools, to attend the Colt McCoy ProCamps football camp. All of their expenses are paid, and the hope is that they bring back a lot more than football knowledge.

“A lot of the kids that are going to the camp might not have aspirations for a professional football career,” said Barbara Jackson with the housing authority, “but by participating in a camp like that, they can be taught a skill and learn that they can do it.”

Everyone involved in this project wants to see these children succeed. The hope is for them to realize over these two days you can try something new, set a goal, work for it and achieve it. It is a setup for success, well into the future.

Winnie Nelson is raising her eight grandchildren after their mother passed away. She knows the power of goal-setting when it comes to success.

“So when they get ready to go to college they already know what kind of goals they want to have in life,” she said. “Then after college, you have a life to do. What can you do, what are my goals, what have I learned from my past to deal with my future?”

But it is hard to do it all, and opportunities like this help many of these young people learn they can lean on others to help them reach their goals.

For those who have walked the path to success, it is a chance to give back. And for the McCoy family, that’s what matters the most.

“Being able to give back some of those things that grow kids in that way, we’ll never be able to take the place of a true father in the home,” said Brad McCoy, Colt’s father. “But the more we can give back to teach the principles of the father, love and leadership and character, and how do you respond to certain things in our world and stay away from.”

One thing is for sure, the message these young people will walk away from after these two days: their future is wide open, and their potential – if they follow the right path – is truly unlimited.

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