Last fall, during one of Alabama’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee meetings, the group, along with members of the staff, discussed potential ways for student-athletes to get involved to help use their platform to make an impact, promote positive dialogue and illustrate respect, tolerance, acceptance and compassion. It was at that meeting that then-junior football student-athlete Joshua Casher spoke up about Alberta Head Start. After hearing Casher’s passionate delivery, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee voted unanimously to partner with Alberta Head Start for the Tide’s unity project as part of its diversity and inclusion initiatives.
“I believe the importance of the project is to make a difference in the lives of our youth,” said Casher. “One thing about it I know, not everyone is granted the opportunity to have the resources to achieve the greatness they set out for in their lives. I believe, through doing this project, it will give the kids a chance. I believe the project means that somebody cares. That someone is willing to show interest in them and let them know they are not left behind. To let them see a greater side of Alabama, not just the football program, the basketball team or the athletic department, but the university as a whole is showing an interest in them and caring about them.”
Although the unity project officially began on Friday with an egg hunt, student-athletes and staff have already been making stops at AHS throughout the year, helping in both the classroom and the cafeteria. Future involvement opportunities include, but are not limited to, reading programs, facility projects, field days and donation drives.
“The ownership our student-athletes have taken and passion they’ve shown towards this project and the students and staff of Alberta Head Start is quite special,” said Alabama Director of Athletics Greg Byrne. “This all came about because of our student-athletes, and our staff is extremely proud of the way they’ve chosen to use their platforms. What a great way for the Crimson Tide to make a positive impact, not only in the present, but also for years to come, in our community.”
Alberta Head Start, through the Community Service Programs of West Alabama, Inc., provides educational services to approximately 150 children between the ages of six weeks and five years. The program is geared toward educating children from low-income homes and/or those with disabilities.
“I believe leaving a legacy is about how many lives you touch while you’re here on this Earth,” added Casher. “In a lifetime, you’re going to interact with so many people. Me interacting with these children is a way I can leave a legacy and make a difference in their lives. If I’m able to do that, I can sleep well at night.”