Students Make Memories with Kids over
UTB and TSC women's soccer team members (left to right)
Katherine Vega from Bogota, Columbia, Tabata Vieira from Belo Horizonte, Brazil,
Karla Lozano from Brownsville and Jessica Santacruz from Asuncion, Paraguay are
all smiles as Coach Nikola Barjaktarevic gives a high-five to one of the
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – MARCH 15, 2013 –
Women’s soccer team members Jessica Santacruz and Tabata Vieira
at The University of
Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College say
going home for spring break was out of the question. Santacruz is from Asunción,
Paraguay and Vieira hails from Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
However, the two say they had plenty of things to do during the break,
such as catching up on their sleep, “maybe” venturing out to South Padre Island
and definitely volunteering for Alternative Spring Break.
“We participated in this last year, and everyone enjoyed it so much,”
said women’s soccer coach Nikola
, who recently received the 2013 Red River Athletic Conference
Coach of Character Award. “It is a
great program, and we knew we couldn’t let the kids down this year.”
Most of the youngsters who took part in the activities live in the
Buena Vida neighborhood adjacent to the Parks and Recreation building, though
the spring break program was open to any students out of school.
Tabata Vieira and Jessica Santacruz demonstrate
some basic soccer footwork for the children at Alternative Spring
“Working with kids is fun for us, and it is good
they can come to the community center and not just be sitting at home watching
TV,” said Santacruz as she was demonstrating some warm-up exercises with the
kids in the gym of the Parks and Recreation building.
Other activities included painting and arts and crafts. Each station in
the arts and crafts room offered a different item to make out of recycled
Bilingual education graduate student Gilda Lire-Caldwell from Mexico
City and special education graduate student Zelica Espinoza from Matamoros
brought a toolbox full of paint and glitter and crepe paper to transform old
bottles into decorative vases.
“Our participation is part of the service-learning component of one of
our classes,” Lire-Caldwell said. “We chose to this event because we knew there
were so many kids who needed a good place to go over the school break where they
could do fun activities, and we could help them make something to take
Healthy Communities of
Brownsville joined the activities and gave a demonstration in
composting. Employees from Resaca de la PAlma State Park on taught archery in
Linear Park across South 7th Street.
Chess team member Oziel Juarez engages in a game
of chess with one of the youngsters participating in Alternative Spring Break
activities at the Brownsville Parks and Recreation building. UTB and TSC Chess
Director Russell Harwood watches the action.
Monday, March 11 featured a community health fair with free
children’s vaccinations administered by UTB health professions students,
nutrition classes conducted by Infant and Family Nutrition
Agency, glucose and blood pressure screenings, and dental
hygiene information from Rodeo Dental.
While all this was taking place, UTB art students were busy painting
the exterior wall of the building facing the adjacent playground. By the end of
the week, the team led by art education major Dana Pope and art major Rebecca
Bonner transformed the wall into a vision reminiscent of a
“Our collaboration with Brownsville Parks and Recreation has been such a
fantastic match,” said Dr. Nikkie Hodgson, Director of the Center of Civic
Engagement. “The facility on Tyler Street is a wonderful place where the
neighborhood youth can feel safe and be surrounded by fun-filled activities that
foster learning and healthy living.”
For more information on the Center for Civic
Engagement, call 956-882-4300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.