'Play It Smart' community program combines hoops with learning

    TORONTO, Sept. 3 /CNW/ - Centennial College's Play It Smart program is
looking for 160 energetic kids who want to learn some basketball skills and
brush up on their math and English studies, too.
    The free community outreach program offers a mix of school tutoring in
English, math and science, as well as some basketball instruction and house
league play on a professional court. The 20-week program, which will take
place every Saturday morning between September 26 and next April, is
recruiting Scarborough children between the ages of 7 and 13.
    "For some of the kids, the carrot really isn't the basketball," says
organizer and business professor Vern Kennedy of last year's inaugural
program. "It's an opportunity to get some extra help in English and math. We
had one young girl who was specifically interested in learning how to write
    Each Saturday, participants will receive 30 or 60 minutes of tutoring in
a subject they need help in, then the instruction moves onto the hardwood for
a half-hour of basketball coaching and a half-hour of house-league play.
Kennedy borrowed the concept from his friend Claude Nembhard, who has coached
basketball to children in North York and York Region.
    Centennial would like to draw kids from the Malvern neighbourhood in
northeast Scarborough, with a special emphasis on boys and girls in grades 7
and 8. The youth will be bused from the Malvern Town Centre to Ashtonbee
Campus at no cost. Corporate sponsors such as Telus, Canadian Tire and Boston
Pizza are donating cash and products to help defray costs.
    "The Centennial College Student Association provided our volunteer
mentors and they did a fantastic job," says Kennedy. "I can't say enough about
the creativity and commitment shown by our own college students, who gave up
20 mornings to work with these kids."
    Kennedy, who teaches marketing and advertising, says introducing
youngsters to a college campus now will help them feel less intimidated by
post-secondary education in the future.

    For more information and to register a child in this free community
program, please visit www.centennialcollege.ca/playitsmart or call
416-289-5000, ext. 3273.

For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Mark Toljagic, Communications
Officer, (416) 289-5000, ext. 7142, cell (416) 605-6012,

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