Daily Point of Light # 1621 Apr 20, 2000

The Alpha Center is an organization that is seeking to bring positive change to the lives of youth and elderly in Baton Rouge on an ongoing basis. The motto of the Alpha Center youth is based on the idea that “in order to be successful in life you must have high self-esteem.” The objectives of the Alpha Center are: threefold — to improve the math, science, reading, Language Arts, and creative writing skills of youth, to provide recreational and community awareness seminars on violence, crime, health, and teen pregnancy, and to provide arts and crafts, fellowship and health screenings for senior citizens.

The Alpha Center has established an Alpha Center Learning Academy Program (ACLAP). ACLAP is a holistic approach to community service. The program components address serious needs of the community. Programs are conducted year-round. The programs are cultural and race neutral. During the summers, an Alpha Center Learning Academy is held. Last year more than 46 inner-city youth participated. Educational programs, recreation, field trips, museum visits, and cultural tours are a part of the program.

The educational component of the Alpha Center Learning Academy Program includes: an after-school tutorial program, high school exit exam test assistance, high school exit examinations, ACT College Preparatory assistance (held on Saturdays), post-secondary education financial aid assistance, community awareness seminars, and computer classes for all grades.

The recreation component of the Alpha Center stimulates good sportsmanship and character building. Recreational activities offered by the Center are year-round and include martial arts, dance classes, basketball, softball, tennis, golf, billiards, ping-pong, soccer, and air hockey. Teams are formed for sports such as tee ball and basketball. The program continually strives to strike a balance between academic and athletic pursuits. Students who do not make satisfactory progress in their academics are not allowed to participate in the recreational sports teams.

Approximately 65 middle and elementary students are members of the Alpha Center’s five Golden Eagles basketball teams. The students often practice and work out with Southern University Men’s & Women’s basketball teams. The teams have also performed during half time at SU’s Men’s basketball games and at Istrouma & McKinley high school baskbetball games.

The Alpha Center also incorporates a senior citizens component into its agenda that consists of serving lunch, a spiritual hour each day, arts and crafts, bingo and other games. A health-screening program is provided to the senior citizens. Efforts are made to target senior citizens that live at or below the poverty level. On January 5, Alpha Center sponsored a welcoming reception for New Year’s that was attended by fifteen new seniors. The staff members informed participants that mid-day meal services, arts and crafts, computer literacy courses, nutrition counseling, exercise classes and additional fellowship opportunities among the Center’s new offerings for the Senior Citizens Program. Future expansion of the Alpha Center includes finalization of plans to make the Alpha Center a designated nutrition site to be serviced by the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging, which will serve meals to the senior citizens program participants.

Since the fall of 1997, the Alpha Center has conducted more than 50 community service projects. These projects include, but are not limited to, hosting a Christmas party for children with AIDS, teen parenting workshops, a senior citizens Christmas dinner, tutorial/computer labs, a martial arts tournament, and girls’ dance recitals. The Center recently hosted a teen parents conference for teen parents and grandparents, in partnership with Inner Reflections II, a teen advocacy group, which focused on the topic “Teen Parenting: Preparing for the 21st Century: What Every Teen Parent Needs to Know But is Afraid to Ask.” There is discussion of adding a teen parents program to the Center.