Free summer sports programs for Detroit students create positive opportunities during pandemic

Posted at 3:46 PM, Aug 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 18:12:01-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — With many families struggling to make ends meet, especially during this pandemic, a welcomed blessing this summer has been free sports camps for students in DPSCD. Not just your typical football and basketball, but for golf and baseball and even girls volleyball with college coaches leading the sessions. It's thanks to a collaboration with a local nonprofit and DPSCD.

In 2021, most kids have hoop dreams and love basketball, but for 15-year-old Janiah Singleton, her love is with the game of volleyball.

"It's my favorite sport," she said.

So much so she would do just about anything to make it to a free summer camp offered to Detroit public school students with college coaches leading the way.
Janiah and her sister would literally take two buses to get to the camp.

"Yeah, it was kinda hard," she said.

With both of their parents working, that was an understatement. Even their dad underestimated their commitment.

DPSCD teamed up with nonprofit Sound Mind Sound Body Sports Academy this summer to offer four weeks of free summer camps. Baseball, basketball, golf, soccer, volleyball, and more are offered.

"We've had almost 9,000 student participants (in grades) K through 12," said Dr. Nikoli Vitti, DPSCD superintendent. "Activity, literary, math course recovery and in the p.m. sessions (it's) all about physical activity."

These camps helped get kids out of the house and back to socializing, especially in the middle of COVID.

There are not as many girls in Detroit interested in volleyball, but this group is trying to change that. Out of pocket, a camp like this would run $150 each day, or $800 a week.

But Janiah's dad said he understands the value.

"It can be an advancement in their life, not just by athleticism but also you know to go to college," he said.

This is opportunity is available thanks to COVID relief funding to the tune of $1.2 billion and Dr. Vitti is hoping this will continue for the next two to three years and beyond.

"These kinds of programs improve attendance (and) student achievement," the superintendent said.

And one bonus is that all of the students get free gym shoes thanks to Adidas and John Wangler.

And while some like Janiah are just getting started and watching Olympic stars win gold in beach volleyball, she's quickly learning their worth is just as valuable as a male athlete – superstar or not.

"You just can't look a Lebron James or Kyrie Irving," Janiah said. "Other females make a name for themselves as well."