2003 marks the ninth season of Jaguars football, and of the Jaguars Foundation Honor Rows program, a unique program that empowers disadvantaged youth to reach beyond their challenging circumstances. Present for today's game against the Buffalo Bills are roughly 300 youth and their chaperones from the organizations listed below who 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. The flexibility of the program allows nonprofit agencies to determine how best to use seats for their particular program.
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. The Jaguars Foundation received the 1996 Governor's Community Investment Award for this program and, through the Sports Philanthropy Project, serves as a demonstration site for other sports leagues and franchises.
The following agencies are present for today's game:
Boys & Girls Clubs of NE Florida (116 seats) – youth read to and assisted the elderly at several nursing homes in their neighborhoods.
Families First (79) – youth and their parents read several books together to improve literacy skills.
Gateway Community Services (23) – older teens participated in a structured behavioral program to help them avoid illegal drugs and crime.
North Jacksonville Youth Development (53) –children and teens learned self defense techniques, basic computer skills, and cleaned local parks.
Safe Harbor Boys Home (6) – teen boys improved their academics and learned how to repair small engines using sophisticated equipment.
The Sanctuary of NE Florida (24) – children and teens learned basic creative writing techniques and planned and executed a bake sale to benefit low-income families.