Up, Up and Away

By: Renee' LaSalle
By: Renee' LaSalle

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"Upward Basketball is a program for children where they can learn the skills of basketball, but it's done through the Christian perspective," said children's pastor, Kay Stewart.

But it's not just basketball. There are cheerleaders as well. The program says "Every Child is a Winner" and promotes self-esteem by not keeping score and making sure that every child has equal playing time.

In fact, there is an award for everyone at the end of each game, and it's a faith-based program, so instructors make sure there is focus on more than just the game.

"The children come once a week to practice. They practice for one hour. And sometime during that hour, they break and they have a devotional. Then, each Saturday for eight Saturdays, they come and play one basketball game. At halftime during that game, there are also devotionals given," Stewart said.

Upward Basketball started almost 20 years ago in South Carolina. Since then it has grown to involve almost 1,200 churches nationwide.

The program at North Park has been around for six years and involves about 200 children. Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church and First Baptist Church also offer Upward Basketball.

Upward Basketball tries to involve the entire family, and allows volunteer opportunities for everyone, from coaches and referees to cheerleading sponsors.

The motto is "changing generations globally through children's sports ministry.”

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