WRITTEN BY: DANA WILLIAMS | STAFF WRITER
PLNU’s 2016 Lent Giving Campaign is called Selma Strong and its goal is to raise money for the weight room at an underprivileged high school in Selma, Alabama. The program is part of PLNU’s LoveWorks mission programs from the Office of Spiritual Development.
Last year, a group of PLNU students went on the Civil Rights Pilgrimage and visited Selma to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic Selma to Montgomery march. On this trip they stopped at Southside High School for a tour.
Since the weight room at Southside High School was installed in 1967, it has not been renovated or received any new equipment.
Joelle Herron, senior PLNU Biology major, was among the students on the trip and talked about her experience on the trip.
“(…) Selma is a fairly rural area and there are still parts of it that are completely segregated; so, you have South-side high that is probably more than 99% black students(…),” Herron said. “And this school was initially an all white school, but when integration happened, white flight also happened… and they took the resources and funding along with them.”
The Lent Giving Campaign at PLNU has partnered financially with Southside High School to raise the money to completely renovate the high schools weight room. April Tyler, a committee member of the SelmaStrong campaign and a junior studying Philosophy and Visual Arts at PLNU believes that the gym rep- resents more than just athletic opportunity for the students.
“For Southside the gym means a lot; it represents a sense of pride for their school… [and] gives students an opportunity to get involved in sports, which is proven to be one of the best way for many students of lower socioeconomic status to get into college giving them a greater hope for their future,” Tyler said.
Natalie Rosen, junior PLNU writing major and Selma Strong committee member talked about the importance athletics play in one’s future, in an interview.
“Athletics is a way to challenge and enable a better future (…) The weight room is a place to become better, not only physically (…) but it also helps intellectually,” said Rosen.
“This campaign isn’t intended to fix everything that is broken in Selma. It won’t fix PLNU’s own issues. It is an opportunity to follow Christ’s call to give and to demonstrate care for our neighbor,” said Director of International Ministries, Brian Becker.
Students can donate online or by visiting the Selma Strong booth on Caf Lane after Chapel sessions and Tues- days and Thursdays in front of the caf. Students who donate $20 will receive a shirt promoting the event.
Students can also take photos at the booth on Caf Lane and post them on social media for the campaign including the hashtag #selmastrong.
Students also have the opportunity help with the campaign and join the committee Monday nights at 5:30 in the Robinson conference room on the 3rd floor of Nicholson Commons and brain- storm new ideas.
This summer, students will return to see the impact that the Selma Strong campaign has on Southside High School as a part of a LoveWorks trip for a couple of weeks in May. The trip will take place May 9- 26.
“It is going to be helpful for [the students of Southside HS] to see that people outside of Selma care. You know, like ‘you guys are not forgotten,’” said Herron.
photos by pixabay.com