Yes, a partnership between the Jacksonville Public Libraries and the Jacksonville Zoo enabled youth to participate in the ZooTREK (Teaching, Reading, Exploring with Kids) program as part of their Honor Rows experience. Youth explored the outdoors through environmental education activities. They were given weekly lessons in how to gather and use information from the library to write a "research" paper on things of relevance to the outdoors. These youth and others who learned about character virtues worked hard to attend this Sunday's Jaguars game against the Titans.
Honor Rows is a unique program that empowers disadvantaged youth to reach beyond their challenging circumstances. These remarkable individuals are celebrating their accomplishments because they earned their seat to the Honor Rows. Seated in the 300-level section of the North End Zone, boys and girls worked hard to improve their academic performance, engaged in positive behavior, and participated in a variety of community service projects. In addition, all youth made and kept a tobacco, alcohol and drug-free pledge with support from their parents and mentors.
Note that at the end of the first quarter, Delores and Wayne Weaver will wave in congratulations to the youth and their agencies for persevering and earning their seat to today's game. Please join the Weavers and other fans in The Wave.
Honor Rows is an innovative program that uses seats at Jaguars home games as incentives for young people to set and achieve ambitious but realistic goals. Its flexibility allows nonprofit agencies to design their own unique program and to determine how best to use the seats to reward their participants.
This season, more than 3,500 seats have been awarded to 39 agencies with multiple programs. Each Honor Rows participant receives a special T-shirt, hat, free meal, certificate of achievement and recognition at the stadium during the game. Yet, the personal goals and skills each youth attains have a long-lasting impact on their future.
Honor Rows was instituted in 1995 during the Jacksonville Jaguars inaugural season, "The Season of Firsts." The Jaguars Foundation is sponsored by Reebok and ALLTEL, with additional support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The United Way of NE Florida mobilizes game-day volunteers who ensure the safety and enjoyment of Honor Rows participants. Through the Sports Philanthropy Project, the Jaguars Foundation serves as a demonstration site for other sports leagues and franchises.
The following agencies will be present for Sunday's game:
Communities in Schools of Jacksonville (360 seats) – students from 11middle schools participated in a character education program to learn about honesty, moral courage, cooperation, and other important virtues.
Jacksonville Public Library Foundation (32) – through a partnership between the public libraries and the Jacksonville zoo, children learned how to collect and use information as they explored their environment.
Mali Vai Washington Kids Foundation (60) – children and teens learned the importance of good sportsmanship and discipline through tennis lessons while also improving their reading/writing skills.
PACE Center for Girls (40) – a football theme involving healthy competition and academic and behavioral challenges helped young ladies to improve their school attendance and grades.
For more information about The Foundation's Honor Rows Program or other Foundation initiatives, please contact Tarek Tabet at 633-6579.