Angharad Chester- Jones saw the children she works with enjoy Christmas early as they spent time playing basketball, doing arts and crafts, and hanging out with the Atlanta Hawks. Chester-Jones is the program director of LaAmistad, an after school program that is catered to Latino children in the Metro Atlanta community.
“Our goal at [LaAmistad] is to teach Latino and first generation students and families the skills and tools to succeed in our local community,” said Chester-Jones. “By being here, we can show our kids that education is very important to having successful lives in the future.” The program currently serves 80 children until high school, and volunteers clocked in over 35,000 hours in tutoring, mentoring and programming that promotes academic, physical and personal growth.
Her students were invited to the Atlanta Hawks Holiday Celebration, which was held on Dec. 14 at Philips Arena. The celebration also included children from Chris Kids, Safehouse Outreach, and My Sister’s House, all nonprofit organizations that provide programs catered to youth affected by homelessness, domestic violence or life transitions.
“A lot of our players have similar stories to these kids here,” said Bob Williams, president of the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena. “For these children to meet the players and realize that they too can be successful, it means that we are doing our part to engage with our community beyond the basketball court.”
Over 200 children participated in an evening of fun with the Atlanta Hawks players, coaches, cheerleaders and mascot at various stations throughout the Arena including a dance clinic, arts and crafts, face painting, basketball skills challenges and autograph signing.
When asked why is it important for athletes to get involved, center and power forward Al Horford said, “These kids are the future, and when they look up to [professional athletes], it is important for us to show them that they can achieve anything.”
In Other News: Colony Square Midtown raised more than $2,000 for Bert’s Big Adventure during its third-annual Trim a Tree for Charity Celebration on Dec. 12. The celebration marked the close of a two-week contest, in which 15 tenants of Colony Square decorated 18 trees. People were invited to vote for their favorite tree, with a $1 donation requested for each vote and no limit to the number of times a person could vote. Bert’s Big Adventure provides a magical, all-expenses-paid, five-day journey to Walt Disney World for children with chronic and terminal illnesses and their families.