May 16, 2022, 11:45 AM by Jennifer McCommons



Made possible via partnership between Lafayette PARC, SMILE, and UL

Lafayette, LA – Lafayette Parks, Arts, Recreation, and Culture (PARC) has partnered with SMILE Community Action Agency to provide a new summer athletic leadership academy for youth. The academy will offer youth an opportunity to enjoy recreation and learn leadership skills while being mentored by coaches and athletes from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Walter Guillory, Athletic Supervisor for Lafayette PARC said, “The purpose of this program to teach our young people team-building skills through innovative activities, and at the same time, enable UL athletes to increase their leadership capabilities.”

The academy is scheduled to take place June 6 - July 15, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The program is open to kids, ages 7-14 and is being offered at no cost to participants. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks will be also provided.

It will be held at three Lafayette PARC Recreation Centers, including Dupuis Recreation Center (1212 East Pont Des Mouton Road), Heymann Recreation Center (1500 South Orange Street), and Domingue Recreation Center (901 Mudd Avenue).

“We’re excited to have the state funding to impact the lives of our youth in such a meaningful manner that will reap benefits for years to come,” said SMILE CEO Craig A. Mathews. “We’re fulfilling our mission to help families and change lives by serving up to 200 children.”

Head Coach for UL’s Women’s Basketball, Garry Brodhead agrees and said, “Anytime you can mentor young kids, the success is there.” According to Brodhead, the youth will be matched with athletes who are role models in their respective fields.

Tommy Badon, Assistant Track Coach at UL indicated that the academy will provide not only wisdom and encouragement for young people, but help to open their mindset and overcome any limiting beliefs. “It’s the first opportunity for kids in this program to be exposed to what is out there,” he said.

Registration forms are available at SMILE located at 501 St. John Street or Girard Park Recreation Center located at 500 Girard Park Drive.

For more information, call SMILE at 337-234-3272, Ext. 200, or Lafayette PARC at 337-291-8393.