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Hoops For The Homeless

For several dozen homeless grade-school students, it was one-on-one excitement: a chance to meet some heroes of the hardwood.

For the UW-Madison”s men”s basketball team, it was an opportunity to help raise awareness of an important community issue.

And it gave budding communicators in Agricultural Journalism 515 a chance to stretch their professional wings.

In an effort to provide homeless students an opportunity for community interaction, students in the Collaborative After School Program of Education and Recreation, or CASPER, were provided an opportunity to tour the Kohl Center and go one on one with Coach Dick Bennett and members of the UW men”s basketball team on Monday, November 16

“It was a great opportunity to raise community awareness of the homeless student population in Madison and hopefully a fun field trip for the kids,” said Sean Mason, a senior guard on the UW-Madison team. Mason wore two hats during the event. The agricultural journalism major is part of the publicity team who coordinated the event.

AJ 515, Publicity Media and Methods, is the Agricultural Journalism Department”s capstone course. As such, it is designed to give students a chance to apply the broad range of communication skills and knowledge and they”ve acquired in a real-world situation, explains Professor Tom Schomisch.
“In this case they did very well,” he adds. “The event was well-covered by both local newspapers and TV.”

The course also helps meet another key goal of the undergraduate curriculum in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences: to graduate students who are responsible community citizens. Each of the five publicity teams in the class is providing media support for a nonprofit community client. Other clients include the Dane County Humane Society, the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, the Elvejem Museum of Art and Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

CASPER is an after-school program housed at Emerson Elementary School on Madison”s near east side. It was created specifically for the benefit of the homeless students in the Madison Metropolitan School District. Its primary purpose is to provide extracurricular opportunities for education and recreation, community involvement, friendship and personal growth that might not be otherwise available. For more information, see the CASPER web site at http://www.madison.k12.wi.us/emerson/tep/tepindex.htm.