In Real Life Blog Series: Demonstrating the Power of Sports Through Peer Mentoring

Peter Straus, Executive Director Team Prime Time
May 22nd, 2017
Posted In: In Real Life

As the school year winds down and summer approaches, we’re sharing stories about how positive mentoring relationships support a healthy lifestyle through physical activity. This post recognizes the important work done by Team Prime Time’s peer mentoring model, which unites two underserved populations through their shared love of sport.

“C-Money”, a rising senior at Fairfax High, is an amazing artist (specializing in anime) and fan of the LA Lakers. For years, he wanted to represent the school he loves, but couldn’t because he has autism. Couldn’t, that is, until Team Prime Time brought its unique inclusion sports model, The Prime Time Games®, to Fairfax High and matched C-Money with a peer mentor. Now he’s an eight-time letterman, having played goalie on the soccer team, receiver on the football team, and forward on the defending champion basketball team.

The Prime Time Games® provides life-changing opportunities to two underserved populations in the same high school by bringing them together in an alternative varsity model. Youth from low-income neighborhoods (especially boys and young men of color) are often perceived as being in need of a mentor, but, through the Prime Time Games®, they become a coach and mentor to a peer with a developmental disability. Together, the coaches and athletes compete in the only league of its kind in the country.

Some of the peer coaches played high school sports, but most have stopped for a variety of reasons. In many cases, the coaches fell behind academically and became increasingly disengaged from school, until participating in The Prime Time Games® gave them a purpose and reason to play sports again. One young lady, who became a coach when she had a 1.8 GPA, succeeded in raising her GPA to over 3.0 by the time she graduated. When asked what inspired the change, she replied, “I did not want to disappoint my athlete.” She’s not alone. 97% of the peer coaches graduate high school on time.

The athletes also see remarkable success. 98% of the athletes graduate or complete high school on time, while the social development they gain from playing team sports in school inspires many to continue playing sports and participate in other fitness-related activities. Yet, for C-Money and so many other athletes, whether they have autism, Down syndrome, or a different disability, it’s about something more: the name on the jersey and the sense of belonging that goes with it. “I love being a Fairfax Lion,” says C-Money. “I have pride in my school. I want to win for my school and for my friends, my teammates.”

The Prime Time Games® exceeds the Dept. of Education’s requirement that all schools provide equal access to extracurricular sports for children with disabilities by simultaneously providing at-risk youth with an invaluable mentoring opportunity. Uniting these two groups through their shared love of sport is the reason the program has rapidly expanded across California and beyond.

However, the program’s success is perhaps best summarized by Chris, an accomplished athlete at Dorsey High School located in the inner city of Los Angeles, who became a coach in order to show his potential off the field. “Don’t help me,” he says. “Help me help others.”

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For information on how you can bring the Prime Time Games® to your school, please contact:

Peter Straus, Executive Director
Team Prime Time
(310) 838-7872
peter.straus@teamprimetime.org

One Comment

  • Bandy Family of Ojai says:

    Peter–what you have accomplished and the messages of “I can do this” that you have given to so many is beyond amazing. Thank you for what Prime Time has given to so many of our youth.

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