WEST ALEXANDRIA — Clint Bartlett was looking for ways his Twin Valley South football players could give back to the community.
What he found was the 2nd and 7 Foundation.
“It’s a great way for our football team to reach out to our community and get involved with some of our younger kids,” Bartlett said of the non-profit organization.
The focus of the foundation is to encourage second graders to become readers, according to the foundation’s website. Studies have shown that if children are not reading well by the end of second grade, there is trouble ahead. The foundation is committed to getting books in the hands of children who need them the most. For many kids, the book they receive may be the only book they have at home.
Players at South have been spending time on Fridays during school reading to elementary students as part of the foundation.
According to the foundation’s website, The 2nd & 7 Foundation is a non-profit organization based in Columbus.
Three former Ohio State University football players, Luke Fickell, Ryan Miller and Mike Vrabel, started the foundation in 1999. Inspired by their involvement in various community outreach programs as student athletes, they decided to continue making a difference by promoting literacy and providing positive role models for children in central Ohio.
The foundation was born from funds generated by the first annual FUNdamental football camp. The camp generated enough money to buy books to hand out to seven different second grade classrooms. Using a down and distance term used in football, the foundation became known as The 2nd & 7 Foundation.
Miller, Vrabel, and Fickell took the books to each of the seven different schools, read to the kids, talked about the importance of literacy, and handed each child a book to take home with them. Since 1999, The 2nd & 7 Foundation has continued to extend its reach and now involves student-athletes from The Ohio State University and other collegiate and high school athletic programs around the country.
Bartlett said he plans on his football team reading to elementary students twice a month for the remainder of the school year.
He said they are scheduled to read five or six additional books.
“I think it’s a great foundation. When the kids hear the story, there’s a moral lesson behind it, and then each kid gets a copy of the book as well. If there are kids who are not necessarily exposed to a lot of literature they get that opportunity to have some books.”
Bartlett said the program gives his players a chance to interact with the younger students.
“I think it’s great. In the community and stuff these guys get a lot of a shine on a Friday night. I can remember when I was younger I thought the high school football players were the greatest guys in the world. To spend some time and have them come and talk to me was great,” Bartlett said. “I just hope they’re getting a little bit of that out of this, but also that they’re getting some good positive male role models. They see that these high school guys are just like everybody else.”
This is just one way the Panthers plan on giving back.
Bartlett said he plans on his team doing other community projects this summer.
“We are going to try and do some community service and things as school starts winding down and the summer come on. We’re going to start doing some things around the school. Just trying to help out a little bit,” Bartlett said. “These kids get a lot from this community on Friday nights, lot of support. Just anything we can do to give back a little.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH