More athletes should give back – Atkinson - Star swimmer calls for more charity work from sportsmen and women
Record-breaking swimmer Alia Atkinson hopes that more sportsmen and women 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 fellowmen.
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 recently, Atkinson invited younger sportsmen and women to follow suit.
"It's not just if you run on track or swim in a pool or play a ball, you can inspire the kids," Atkinson said.
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 said. "I would love if more of the young generation coming in right now can follow that route 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, I would bring the local youth, so if I go to Senegal, I would have the Senegal Olympians," said Atkinson.
Observing that younger Jamaican swimmers like Keenan Dols, Sabrina Lyn, Emily McDonald, and Zaneta Alvaranga are showing world-class potential, she entreated, "(There are) 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 techniques 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 the Jose Marti High School and a picnic at Devon House.