LARAMIE, Wyo. - The Cowboy basketball team has recently been volunteering time to work with Healthy Pokes, an after-school program run through the University of Wyoming's Division of Kinesiology and Health and the College of Health Sciences.
Healthy Pokes seeks to enhance the health and wellness of local children in grades 3-8 (ages 7-14) through a multidisciplinary and longitudinal program. The program runs for 10 weeks during each academic semester with students participating in one two-hour session per week. During these sessions, children receive education and participate in activities focusing on physical activity, nutrition and behavioral health.
The Cowboys partnered with Healthy Pokes in the spring of 2014 and under the guidance of assistant coach Allen Edwards have sent a group of players to meetings since, including extra sessions last summer. Student-athletes taught Healthy Pokes children basketball drills and skills, as well as other free-play activities. Head coach Larry Shyatt and the Cowboys also provided tickets for the Healthy Pokes and their families to attend basketball games during the season and took the group on a tour of the Arena-Auditorium's renovations.
"The greatest gift of life is the gift of giving," Shyatt said. "It's especially important for our players to do that for the right reasons, not for attention and not to get credit, but as an act of selflessness."
Healthy Pokes Director Karen Gaudreault said the relationships formed between players and children in the program have been positive for both.
"Our friendship with the coaches, players and staff of Cowboy basketball has significantly enhanced our program and brought immense happiness to the children in it," Gaudreault said. "One of the most important components of Healthy Pokes is our emphasis on enhancing the emotional wellness of children. It is this area that Cowboy basketball greatly contributes to our ability to develop and nurture these feelings in the Healthy Pokes children. Aside from demonstrating the positive nature of involvement in sport and physical activity, the positive energy, messages and interactions that the children gain from their friendship with the Cowboy basketball players enhances their emotional wellness."
For more information about the Healthy Pokes program, visit: http://www.uwyo.edu/kandh/healthy-pokes/index.html. Parents wishing to enroll their children in Healthy Pokes or community members wishing to become involved or make a donation can contact Gaudreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-766-3333.