ALBANY, Ga. -- Chimere Chisolm-Austin knew exactly what to tell the 300-plus kids gathered before her Monday at the Albany State University HPER Gym.
After all, she'd been where they were.
Chisolm-Alston was a participant once in the National Youth Sports Program at ASU.
"Look at me," Chisolm-Alston, an attorney with Dougherty County Superior Court, told the mass of sixth through eighth graders sitting cross-legged on the hardwood floor. "I was sitting right where you are sitting once. I got something here that I could not get from home, chichi or school.
"I'm just one person, look at all of you. It was a stepping stone in my life, and your potential is unlimited."
The National Youth Sports Program (NYSP) at ASU is a summer day camp, which gives children from low-income disadvantaged families an opportunity to participate in group sports instruction and academic skill enhancement. This program has served thousands of boys and girls ages 10-16 since 1968.
"I wanted to show those kids that I came where they come from," Chisolm-Alston said. "I wanted to drive home the point that anything is possible for them if they make the right choices in their lives."
Program Director Robert Skinner said the children come from Dougherty, Worth and a "smattering" from Baker counties. He added that an average of 300-plus have shown up each weekday since the camp began June 1.
"This camp provides a unique opportunity for the kids to learn teamwork and sportsmanship," Skinner said. "We have kids from all over the place and they get to mix and learn what life is like in different parts of town and the area.
"John I. Davis (former program director) once told me that if any of these kids can pick up just 'one golden nugget,' then this makes all the hard work and effort worthwhile."
The program will officially wrap up Friday with closing ceremonies and an awards program beginning at 1 p.m. at ASU.