UBC opens up to inner-city kids with unique program

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Vancouver, BC – Inner-city elementary school students from East Vancouver will get their first look at university life from a basketball court at UBC on January 16.

But the kids participating in the “I’m Going To UBC” program won’t just be picking up hoop skills and taking in a game with university varsity athletes and coaches — they’ll be learning how athletes balance sports with academics and the potential of a university education.

“‘I’m Going To UBC’ is an amazing program for our inner-city students,” said Andrea Wilks, a participating teacher from Admiral Seymour Elementary. “For most, it’s the first time ever being on a university campus. For many, no one in their family has ever attended university. It opens their eyes up to what is possible, where they could be in less than 10 years.”

The program also gives UBC athletes a chance to share their passion for sport and become positive role models for the kids involved.

“After one of the schools was leaving at the end of the night, a little girl came up to me and told me she wished that all my hopes and dreams come true,” said Ross Hilliam, a UBC football player who has volunteered with the program for three years. “It was one of my biggest highlights of working with the program.”

“I’m Going To UBC” is now in its seventh year. The program, a partnership between the Centre for Community Engaged Learning, UBC Athletics and Recreation and the Vancouver School Board, has opened the doors to more than 2,000 inner-city students since it began. More than 250 UBC students have taken part, many returning year after year to participate.

Children and teachers from Grandview and Lord Strathcona elementary will be at UBC January 16 for the next “I’m Going To UBC” event. Buses will arrive at the War Memorial Gym at 3:30 p.m. (6081 University Blvd.). They’ll tour the campus with participating athletes, then head to the basketball skills clinic at the Student Recreation Centre (6000 Student Union Blvd.) for 4:15 p.m.

Participating UBC students, teachers from the elementary schools and UBC officials will be available for interviews during the event between 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The UBC Women’s Basketball takes on Brandon University starting at 6 p.m. in the War Memorial Gym.

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