JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas State University men's basketball players have shifted their focus from the court to the classroom in elementary schools!
Players visited multiple schools to kick off a new program called, "Red Wolves Read."
From Jan. 2 to Feb. 10, students are being challenged to complete ten reading assignments.
Every student that rises to the occasion gets a free ticket to their game against Little Rock.
Aaron Howard is the Marketing Assistant in Athletics at Arkansas State University and coordinator for the Red Wolves Read program.
Howard said they didn't want to just promote their games.
They wanted to help the community.
"We really wanted to get more involved with the community," Howard said. "We wanted to get the men's basketball team involved. I was approached and asked what can we do to get people out to the games and get the team involved. We decided this reading program would be a great idea."
Howard said he hopes having the players visit the students one on one would encourage them to participate.
"Having the student-athletes come out and talk to the students about the importance of reading," Howard said. "That's awesome. Because they need someone to look up to and try to help motivate them as they continue to get older and move along in their school career and hopefully one day go to college. But it all starts with reading."
The students they spoke to on Thursday at Blessed Sacrament in Jonesboro were excited about the program.
"I think it's cool," 6th-grade student McKinley Neece said. "Because you can read more and it's fun to read."
Blessed Sacrament student Joshua Stiles said he plans to participate.
"You set a certain deadline for yourself," Stiles said. "And read a certain amount of pages in a certain amount of time and I like doing things like that."
And he's not the only one.
"I thought it was great," Student Sophia Bailey said. "I mean, I love to read so I already knew I was going to do it."
Howard said the players had a blast visiting the students in all the schools.
"They love it," Howard said. "Just being able to interact with the kids is the biggest thing with them. So, coming out and talking and visiting with them. They've personally loved it. Talking to the kids about the importance of reading and their favorite books. They've had a great time."
Six schools in the Craighead County area are participating in the program.
Howard said around 5,000 students are going to try and meet the challenge.
Howard said they hope to continue it next year.
The Red Wolves will be playing against Little Rock on Feb. 17.
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