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NMSU students host Aggies Kick for Kids tournament to benefit underprivileged children

Students in the Service Learning for Educational Distinction program at New Mexico State University are doing their part to help children in need by hosting a kickball tournament this weekend.

Group photo of students
Students in the Service Learning for Educational Distinction, or SLED, program at New Mexico State University are hosting the first Aggies Kick for Kids kickball tournament Saturday, Dec. 3, to provide sports equipment to students at La Academia Dolores Huerta, a dual language charter middle school in Las Cruces. (NMSU photo by Adriana M. Chavez)

SLED students are seeking donations to provide sports equipment for students at La Academia Dolores Huerta, a dual language charter middle school in Las Cruces. The SLED program is housed in NMSU’s College of Education.

Twenty-four students in the ELA 305V class, which incorporates a service learning component, are helping with the project, which was developed over the fall semester with the guidance of instructor Denise Rodriguez-Strawn. At the beginning of the semester, the students formed groups and came up with community service projects that were eventually voted on by the rest of the class. Students unanimously approved the project involving La Academia Dolores Huerta.

Patricia Smith was part of the group of students who thought of the project, and said she was thrilled by the way the entire class embraced it.

“Each one of us knows what it’s like to be a middle school student and have substandard equipment,” Smith said. “It’s a charter middle school that serves the needs of Las Cruces but it’s small, so they don’t get many grants and funds.”

The students combined the La Academia Dolores Huerta project with an idea from another project to create a kickball tournament. To make the tournament successful, students have recruited their friends, relatives and other students to participate in the tournament, which takes place at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at the NMSU Intramural Fields off Wells and Locust streets. Admission is $3 a person or a donation of sports equipment, such as balls, jump ropes and tennis rackets.

“We all love sports and we all love working with kids,” said Devon Vallejos, a student and one of two team leaders organizing the tournament. “Once we decided to do this, we hit the ground running and we were able to organize it in three weeks.”

Rodriguez-Strawn said the project, including the tournament, was entirely student based. Students created committees and subcommittees to help with marketing, publicity, concessions and social media.

Several NMSU athletic teams are also represented in the project, Rodriguez-Strawn said. Students include members of the football, baseball, volleyball, softball, track, cheer and equestrian teams. The students participating also come from diverse backgrounds.

“That’s what has made this group very special,” Rodriguez-Strawn said. “By far they are some of the most amazing students that I have had the pleasure of teaching.”

For more information about the tournament or to participate, call Vallejos at 505-712-3633 or email aggiekickforkids16@gmail.com.