Student-Athletes Return From Service Learning Trip to Guatemala


2015 Athletics Service Learning

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The Wheelock Athletics Department recently completed its first-ever, student-athlete service learning trip. Through a collaboration with Safe Passage (Camino Seguro), Wheelock athletes provided assistance in classrooms while demonstrating leadership in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

Representing the cross country teams were Stephanie Hom (Lexington, Mass.), Dan Blahnik (Wayland, Mass.) and Mohamed Mohamed (Chelsea, Mass.). Gabrielle Haywood (East Longmeadow, Mass.) represented women’s basketball and Elizabeth Cooper (Mansfield, Mass.) was selected from the field hockey team. Emma Marrs (Old Lyme, Conn.) and Meghan Lewis (South Berwick, Maine) were selected from women’s lacrosse while Lewis represented women’s soccer as well. Student-athletes were accompanied by Dwight Datcher (Director of Athletics), Valerie Hudson (Executive Assistant to President Jackie Jenkins-Scott), William Rodriguez (Chair and Assistant Professor of Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy) and Meghan Griffin (Sports Information Director).

Safe Passage is an initiative that provides education and opportunity to hundreds of at-risk children of extremely low income families working in the garbage dump of Guatemala City.

Wheelock student-athletes spent the week in Guatemala City leading physical education classes with third graders and high school age students and art and dance activities with third graders and preschool age children. At the close of the week, the Wildcats travelled with their third grade class to a local children’s museum, a field trip the class may not have had the opportunity to participate in otherwise.

The program was founded by Hanley Denning, a Wheelock College alumni who travelled to Guatemala City by chance and felt compelled to aid the community. After meeting the people of Zone 3, where the largest garbage dump in Central America is located, Denning stayed in Guatemala City. She sold her possessions in the US and used the modest profits to found Safe Passage, improving the lives of hundreds of children and families in Central America. The program has grown from being able to serve 90 children in 1999 to over 550 students and their families today.

Learn more about Safe Passage