SLANT 45, which stands for Service Learning in North Texas, was a community project program that aimed to involve children in community service.
There’s more to sports than winning—at least that’s the motto of one sports organization, Collin County Patriots Football, based in Frisco. This select youth football group’s priority is not only to cultivate athleticism in their players, but also volunteerism. As Regina Carr-Higgins, the group’s director of community service, explains: “We want our boys to know there are people in the community who sometimes need our help.”
The group made it a priority to mold the young players’ lives on and off the field with organized community service projects. Patriots players (from Frisco, Plano, Allen and McKinney) started small: the organization collected food for an area food bank; they raised money at a car wash and donated to a local food bank. The football players energetically requested more community projects from their coaches (to their parent’s pleasure).
After meeting with a member of the Dallas Junior League, the scope of the Patriots’ projects widened. The Patriots registered online with SLANT 45, service-learning program established by the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee, and implemented the group’s teaching tools. The mission and tools provided by SLANT 45 (like a kid’s playbooks to explain how even the smallest act of kindness can help another person) gave the Patriots a leg up in planning their next big project: Raising awareness for child abuse by walking in the Fourth-Annual Walk Against Child Abuse April 25 in Lewisville.
“We put together a list of projects and got the kids’ input … when the kids are happy, they stay engaged,” explains Carr-Higgins.
And despite their ages (5-12), the kids walked the one-and-a-half-mile course without a single complaint. But they weren’t just there to walk, says Carr-Higgins. “Being aware of child abuse, even at a young age, is very important … they were very aware of why they were walking,” she says.
As part of the SLANT 45 program, the group reconvened after the walk to gage the kids’ thoughts and opinions. The consensus: They wanted to know what project they could tackle next!
“Having the educational tools provided by SLANT 45 is what helps set us apart from other groups. It helps us better teach our kids,” Carr-Higgins explains.
According to Damian Cole, president of the league, “Football at this age isn’t about winning games—they won’t remember that.” He adds, “They’ll remember the lessons they learned about child abuse, rather than who scored the winning touchdown.”