Carroll Ballers

Edward (Ned) Barnes ’15 (left) and Michael Gong ’15 (right) pose with Jacqueline Brackett, Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center

Ohio Campus Compact has honored John Carroll University students Edward (Ned) Barnes ’15 and Michael Gong ’15 with the 2014 Charles J. Ping Student Service Award. The award recognizes outstanding leadership and contributions to community service and service learning.

The Carroll Ballers is a unique service opportunity created by Barnes and Gong that combines the game of basketball with a mentoring program for residents of the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center (CCJDC). The goal is successful re-entry to the community when the CCJDC youth are released.

Barnes and Gong started the program in fall 2012 and it quickly grew. Seven JCU students traveled each Friday night to the CCJDC to mentor 20-plus, 12- to 14-year-old male residents. By mid-February 2013, CCJDC staff asked JCU leadership for another group of students to work with 18- to 21-year-old residents. Barnes and Gong, along with JCU’s Center for Service and Social Action, recruited another group of students by March; within two weeks, CCJDC staff observed such positive behavioral changes that they requested another group of students for 16- to 18-year-old residents. In fall 2013, John Carroll students began working with five groups of residents, including female residents, age 12-21.

As of spring 2014, almost 50 JCU students are working with seven CCJDC groups, and there is a waiting list of JCU students who want to participate. Pre-basketball discussions are based on a curriculum developed by the JCU students using the acronym CARROLL BALLERS. The students develop activities to support conversation about various topics, e.g., character, role models, opportunity, esteem, success, and lead the discussions.

Barnes is a communication major from Syracuse, New York. Gong is a biology major from Mansfield, Ohio.

JCU students have received the Charles J. Ping Student Service Award for four consecutive years. Kyle Hutnick ’13, James Haitz ’12, and Catherine Distelrath ’12 were honored in 2013, 2012, and 2011, respectively.

Ohio Campus Compact is a statewide non-profit coalition of 47 college and university presidents and their campuses working to promote and develop the civic purposes of higher education.

Posted on May 7, 2014
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