Atkinson urges athletes to give back
Record breaking swimmer Alia Atkinson hopes that more sportsmen and sportswomen will start to give back to their communities.
Atkinson believes that such activities can inspire others not only to participate in sport, but also to serve their fellow men. The four-time Olympian made the comment last Friday at a swim clinic held for 55 children who live in institutional homes.
The event was part of an initiative hosted by the Child Protection and Family Services Agency in conjunction with Hope Worldwide and the Kingston Church of Christ.
At the end of the clinic, held at The University of West Indies on June 28, she invited younger sporting personalities to follow suit.
"Give back, to have yourself as a celebrity in the eyes of the young and the eyes of the parents and everybody, and see what you can do with that," Atkinson suggested. "It's not just if you run on track or swim in a pool or play a ball, you can inspire the kids."
ATHLETES TO EMULATE
Atkinson noted the work done by foundations established by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Yohan Blake, Asafa Powell, Usain Bolt, and others.
"I do know that Shelly-Ann does a lot of stuff and we do have a lot of them (athletes) doing it," she tabled. "I would love if more of the young generation coming in right now can follow that route and not as an afterthought."
She also hopes to expand the reach of her own interaction with youth.
"For me, specifically, I would love to see this expand not only in Jamaica but different Caribbean [islands], and nationwide, and wherever I travel.
"If I come down to Jamaica, [I'd like] to have the national level swimmers, to have the senior level swimmers come and participate in the swim clinic as well and to give back so they can say, the younger ones can see where they can reach," she continued.
Observing that younger Jamaican swimmers like Keenan Dols, Sabrina Lyn, Emily McDonald, and Zaneta Alvaranga are showing world-class potential, she entreated, "So many people coming up now and if you can have them giving back at a younger age, it will be embedded in them when they reach older and, hopefully, we can keep it going."
The clinic was designed not only to teach basic swimming technique but also to give the children living in homes an opportunity to experience a family setting outside the institutions where they live. In addition, the three day Child Protection and Family Services Agency exercise included a book and health fair at Jose Marti High School, and a picnic at Devon House.