Originally created 03/08/06

Budget cuts end youth program



More than 300 children from low-income families in Augusta will have one less way to keep them healthy and active this summer.

Paine College's National Youth Sports Program, a six-week day camp held during the summer, will not return this year after money supporting the program was cut from the federal budget, Paine College officials said recently.

"People are calling like crazy wondering where their kids are going to go for the summer," said Willie Allen, Paine College National Youth Sports Program Advisory Committee member.

The National Youth Sports Program was supported by an $18 million federal grant that helped more than 200 colleges and universities sponsor the program, Paine College officials said.

But when it was cut from the 2006 federal budget, Paine College could not support the program, a staple of the university for about the past 15 years, Ms. Allen said.

Besides participating in activities such as swimming, golf, basketball and dance, low-income children ages 10-16 were offered free breakfast, lunch and transportation to Paine College, Ms. Allen said.

The program also offered an educational component on alcohol and drug abuse and gave free sports physicals to the students who wanted them, she said.

Without the National Youth Sports Program, many working parents and grandparents caring for young children will have one less place to take them this summer, Ms. Allen said.

She urged Augusta residents to contact their congressmen to seek reinstatement of the federal funding for the summer of 2007.

"We truly enjoyed having them," said Ms. Allen.

Reach Kate Lewis at (706) 823-3215 or kate.lewis@augustachronicle.com.

Because of federal budget cuts, more than 300 children who would have attended Paine College's National Youth Sports Program will have to find somewhere else to go, as Paine College said it can no longer support the program without a federal grant.