Serving as 'Caddie' for Cedar Rapids Youth
From the University of Iowa’s history with Dance Marathon to the emergence of the Kinnick Wave at Hawkeye Football, the campus community’s sense of social responsibility has been evident in its commitment to youth. Similarly, UISRM has launched classes to prepare interscholastic coaches and athletics administrators. Student interest in serving schools across Iowa is demonstrated by strong, consistent enrollment in certification coursework in recent years.
In conjunction with a curriculum that provides foundational knowledge and areas of concentration, guided practicums are a UISRM hallmark in terms of engagement and outreach. The Kids on Course field experience was designed by instructor Kara Kehe to extend opportunities for service learning to a sizable group of young professionals aspiring to work in school-based sport.
During a fall 2017 conference call with Iowa Campus Compact, Kara was introduced to Kids on Course—an educational initiative funded by the Zach Johnson Foundation that operates in coordination with the Cedar Rapids Community School District. Native Iowan and professional golfer Zach Johnson and his wife Kim started the foundation that funds Kids on Course to champion Cedar Rapids youth in pursuing paths toward post-secondary education. The nonprofit’s participation numbers have increased dramatically since the inaugural year a decade ago. UISRM collaborated with Kids on Course to address specific needs of the middle school population served by the organization.
Through three iterations of the practicum, the partnership between UISRM and Kids on Course has created unique educational opportunities that have produced positive learning outcomes for both UI undergraduates and the Cedar Rapids middle schoolers who dream of attaining a college degree. By assisting with the development of activity-based experiences for the kids from Cedar Rapids supported by the Zach Johnson Foundation, UISRM has exemplified its fundamental mission that the program “prepares students to make meaningful contributions to the sport and recreation industry at all levels and/or broadens their understanding and appreciation of the sport and recreation industry.”
Below are reflections from a few individuals on their fall 2020 experiences in Kids on Course:
Jackson Allmon – SRM student (fourth year)
"The valuable lessons learned and the new skills I acquired through the Kids on Course field experience are things that will carry on with me in the sport industry post-graduation. My classmates and I were able to overcome typical communication issues in a virtual setting by keeping in mind who we were doing this for: the kids. It was much easier to consult with one another and unveil everyone's skills and assets when our motivation was clear. The opportunity to help those ever-deserving kids take their next steps toward post-secondary education is something that I will never take for granted. My only hope is that the kids learned just as much about themselves through the process as I did!"
Sabrinna Hegelheimer – SRM student (fourth year)
"I love practicum courses because of the opportunity to work on real-life projects. They have given me experiences outside the classroom that will translate well as I enter my future career in sports. Kids on Course was an especially interesting practicum for me because of my interests in both nonprofits and athletics. Working with classmates outside of regular courses has given me the chance to make genuine connections while learning about myself as a team member and leader."
Jillian Kousins – HHP and Psychology student (fourth year)
"The Kids on Course program is special in the sense that it's all hands on deck—community members, college students, and site managers all get to work together to create a positive and motivating environment. With a nonprofit, genuine passion and care go into the work of those involved, and you don't always see that with larger companies. When I reflect on my experience with Kids on Course and the Zach Johnson Foundation, it has encouraged me to volunteer in my community and work with nonprofits in the future."