Student-athletes promote healthy habits among local Head Start students

Author: Erin Blasko

Notre Dame Athletics is partnering with the South Bend Community School Corp. (SBCSC) to promote healthy habits among students at Studebaker Elementary School, home to the district’s Head Start and special needs programs for children ages 0-5.

“Be Like the Irish” is a poster campaign featuring images of Notre Dame student-athletes from a variety of men’s and women’s teams promoting one of three core messages: “Brush your teeth!”, “Clean your plate!” or “Wash your hands!”

Studebaker students eat breakfast and lunch and practice hand washing and tooth brushing at school as part of Head Start and in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The posters help generate excitement around these tasks, with dynamic photos of the student-athletes in uniform, in addition to green shamrocks and the Notre Dame monogram in blue and gold.

The campaign features Daelin Hayes and Max Siegel II from football; Luisa Delgado, Sammi Fisher and Erin Ospeck from women’s soccer; Mo Omar from men’s soccer; Pierce Crawford from hockey; Katie Marino from softball; and Katlyn Gilbert and Anaya Peoples from women’s basketball.

Student Welfare and Development organized the campaign, and the Canon Print Shop, an on-campus print shop that caters to Notre Dame Athletics, printed the posters.

Additionally, Saint Joseph Health System donated 90 Crayola toothbrushes to the campaign.

The posters hang in classrooms, hallways and bathrooms at Studebaker to remind students about healthy habits. They number 54 in total, or six of each student-athlete.

“Children develop lifelong habits, including hand washing and other personal health habits, at an early age. This is an opportunity for us, in partnership with the South Bend Community School Corp. and the local Head Start consortium, to promote such habits among disadvantaged and special needs youth in the South Bend community,” said Collin Stoecker, social media and community outreach manager for Student Welfare and Development, a division of Notre Dame Athletics devoted to the overall development of student-athletes: body, mind and spirit. “This is one of many ways our student-athletes serve as leaders and role models on campus and in the community.”

Head Start is a federally funded school-readiness program that offers cognitive, social and emotional development skills to children ages 0-5, including special needs children, from low-income families. Locally, the program is administered by the Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties Head Start Consortium.

The pandemic notwithstanding, Notre Dame student-athletes volunteer with a variety of local organizations during the school year, from Special Olympics Indiana and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Michiana, to the South Bend Community School Corp., the Food Bank of Northern Indiana and Student Welfare and Development’s very own Fighting Irish Fighting for Life.

Before the pandemic, student-athletes visited Studebaker to read to Head Start and special needs children on a regular basis during the school year. They now record themselves reading to the students and post the videos to YouTube.

“Notre Dame Athletics is truly a part of our Head Start community,” said Kathy Guajardo, executive director of the Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties Head Start Consortium. “We have found this unique partnership to be rich and meaningful to our students and parents.”

For more information, visit ndswd.com.

Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127, eblasko@nd.edu

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