Upwards sports program impacts local kids - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Upwards sports program impacts local kids

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(Source: Kadee Brosseau, Heartland News multimedia journalist) (Source: Kadee Brosseau, Heartland News multimedia journalist)
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

Almost 400 boys and girls took the court Saturday at the Southeast Missouri State University Recreation Center.

It's all part of a nationwide sports program called Upwards.

Every Saturday from January through March, you will find the gym packed with players, cheerleaders, and parents.

Tthe girls have been in it for about five years now," Parent Theresa VanGilder said.

Organizer and Pastor to Families with Children at Lynwood Baptist Church Casey Rader says Upwards is a program for the entire community. It is a partnership between area churches. Lynwod Baptist Church heads-up the program.

"[It provides] these kids a fun environment, a safe environment," Rader said.

Players say they're learning a lot about sports.

"How to pass the ball and how to shoot," One player said.

However, other life lessons come along as well.

"[I learned] to never give up," another player said.

Rader says, mostly Upwards focuses on one main component.

"In practice and in games, we try to introduce them as well as their families into a relationship with Jesus Christ," Rader said.

Tthe kids learn about Jesus, they learn how to play together as a team, not be real aggressive," VanGilder said.

The kids says the other players on the court with them started out the season as just teammates, but now they're much more.

"[We are] having fun with all our friends," one player said.

So whether they win or lose, one thing is for sure.

"I like upwards because you're having fun!" another player said.

"Upwards has been a great experience for me," One player said. "Every kid should play it."

Rader says Upwards is a great option for kids who are home schooled or are unable to participate in school sponsored leagues.

For more information about Upwards, visit this website: http://www.lynwoodbc.org/

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