MU student teaches children to 'dream outside the box'

The program introduces kids to new, diverse activities.

By Emily Willroth | Sept. 25, 2009

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Walking onto the sports grounds at Eugene Field Elementary last week, the children of the Columbia Boys and Girls Club were skeptical. Eyeing the alien lacrosse equipment, they waited patiently, excited only at the prospect of playing football when this foreign game was over.

Within minutes, the game was in full swing. MU lacrosse club team members played side-by-side with the children, teaching them technique and the basic rules of the game. Once familiarized with the game, skepticism was replaced with enthusiasm as the children competed playfully with the lacrosse team.

Just an hour later, a team of lacrosse enthusiasts, donning their newly-won practice jerseys had to be dragged off the field.

Day three of Dream Outside the Box was a success.

The organization, spearheaded by sophomore Kam Phillips, aims to expose minority children to a variety of unique experiences, expanding their view of the world and providing them with alternatives to the stereotypical passions and hobbies. Lacrosse was just one of the many new activities Dream Outside the Box plans to bring to the children.

"I wanted to erase the stigmas and stereotypes among minority kids that they have to be a rapper or a football player to be something," Phillips said.

Dream Outside the Box launched its pilot series, "The Language of Learning," at the beginning of September. Volunteers from Dream Outside the Box and other MU campus organizations will be visiting the Boys and Girls Club twice a week to introduce the children to everything from food manufacturing to swing dancing. These activities will be intermixed with exercises in learning foreign languages and showing the children other ways of communicating with one another.

"We want to show them that there's a whole world of languages out there," Phillips said.

Plans for future series include "The Art of Exploration" and "The Great Outdoors." During "The Art of Exploration" series, Phillips said she plans to have the children exercise their creative talents through charity work in the community.

If the pilot series runs smoothly, she said she hopes to expand the program to more children than just those at the Boys and Girls Club and implement a mentorship program to guide children about future career paths.

"I want these kids' dreams to belong to them, to be beautiful and to be obtainable," Phillips said. "I think Dream Outside the Box can do that."

Dream Outside the Box is awaiting approval to become an official campus organization. The students plan to work with other MU organizations to expand and hopefully obtain the status of a nationally recognized charity.

"We're not stopping here," Phillips said.

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