From the Florida Department of Children & Families:
Family Support Services of North Florida, the Florida Department of Children and Families and Jacksonville University are teaming with legendary JU basketball player Artis Gilmore for a “Camp for Champions” for foster children.
Fifty foster children from Duval and Nassau counties will attend the five-day, four-night JU Art Camp. Many have never been to a summer camp before. Gilmore, DCF Northeast Regional Director David Abramowitz and Family Support Services CEO Lee Kaywork will speak at the camp’s kickoff event at 9 a.m. Monday, June 11, at Jacksonville University. Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown is also scheduled to be at this event.
“I see it as a chance for these kids, who have so many thoughts and issues going on, to get away from that for awhile and have some freedom to absorb something: that there’s always hope,” said Gilmore, Special Assistant to the President at JU. “After my experiences and success, this is all about giving back and making a difference.”
The annual camp provides a variety of learning and fun opportunities for children, including classes in art, music, dance, theater, set design, swimming, games and crafts, creative self-expression, dramatic and performing arts, personal development, team building and physical opportunities. At the end of the week, there will be an exhibition of art work created by the children who attended the camp. Additionally, there will be a live performance by the campers.
“This camp provides an outstanding opportunity for children in foster care to discover their potential,” said David Abramowitz of DCF. “They will benefit from numerous enriching experiences and have many memories to inspire them in their lives. This camp will help them believe in themselves and help them grow their self-esteem and character.”
“The JU Art Camp is a great annual event, and we are glad to help children in foster care attend this year’s camp,” said Lee Kaywork of Family Support Services. “Children in foster care deserve the same opportunities that other children have. We appreciate the support of Jacksonville University and Artis Gilmore, and we look forward to a memorable experience for these children.”
Gilmore is teaming up with FSS, DCF and JU to host the art camp. He was a member of the Jacksonville University Dolphins basketball team that reached the NCAA national championship game in 1970. He played 18 seasons in the NBA and the ABA (American Basketball Association), and remains the NBA’s career leader in field goal percentage. Gilmore has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and also is Mayor Brown’s Ambassador for Sports, Entertainment and Physical Fitness.
DCF’s statewide Camps for Champions initiative will provide opportunities for hundreds of children in foster care throughout the state to benefit from sports, mentoring, personal interaction and other opportunities. More than a dozen camps are planned for this year, expanding from seven in 2011.