HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The University of Hawaii will host its second annual Youth Impact Program from June 18-29 at the Manoa Campus. The event, brings together the 'Bows student athletes and at-risk middle school children from across the state.
The camp drew nearly 100 keiki from Hawaii who participated in a 10-day program in 2017. The event is completely free and provides campers with more than 60 hours of classroom time, and 20 hours of workouts with Hawaii football players. Participants are also provided breakfast and lunch and transportation to U.H., as well as equipment, supplies they might need, clothing, field trips, and information about the University of Hawaii itself.
The hope is that exposure to learning in the classroom, on the field, and to the school will inspire the children to set personal goals both academically and athletically.
"The program is about the ignition of the heart of these young boys to do something bigger than themselves and to become winners for this community," said founder and three-time Super Bowl champion, Riki Ellison.
The Youth Impact Program is the brain child of the 2017 Polynesian Hall of Fame inductee who came up with the idea for YIP in 2003 and launched inaugural event three years later. YIP has since helped thousands of children across 13 cities.
For some of Hawaii's players, participating as mentors has been particularly special. Senior wide receiver and Waianae native, Dakota Torres, said he sees a lot of himself in the children he coaches. And he hopes he can lead them as much as his parents, aunts, and uncles helped guide him.
"Growing up wasn't the easiest, but my parents helped provide me with mentors," said Torres. "A lot of kids in Waianae don't have the opportunities to have [mentors] in their lives. So for me, participating in this camp last year was a chance to give back to my community. I still follow some of the kids and a lot of them are doing really good."
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