Office of Public Engagement

Service with the Gators

Posted by Joe Kennedy, Staff Assistant, White House Office of Public Engagement

Thursday was one of those days where I pinch myself.  As a former baller on the Northwestern basketball team (although a lot of my time was watching not playing), sports is a major part of my life.  Thursday was the first event where the President welcomed a sports championship team to the White House during his Administration! 

 
What was especially inspiring for the staff in the Office of Public Liaison was that the President’s call to service was already being heeded in Gainesville.  The Gators football program does hundreds of hours of community service, based mainly around working with local schools and children.  The players talk about healthy living, personal development, and the importance of staying in school.  And there is no doubt the players care about their community.  Just look at the video form after the event…
 

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These kinds of activities and leadership, "Community Champion" behavior as they call it, is echoed in much of the community work the Florida Gators have done, like the Gator Club service at Shands Pediatric Unit where they visit the kids in the pediatric unit. In Gator Literacy, which is designed to promote reading and literacy in Alachua County, players will read stories to children during their lunch time.  They have also worked at local schools interacting with schools about programs designed to promote fitness and physical activity, and reading skills.
 
In addition to celebrating the great accomplishment achieved by the Gator Nation, what's especially inspiring is all the work the Gators do off the field.  The President has always spoken about personal empowerment and the importance of being a good neighbor, being involved in your community, and when possible being a "Community Champion."  It's clear they get at least as much out of it as the people they lend a hand to.
 

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