Harlem Ambassadors share a message with SL youth

Friday, October 5, 2012
The Harlem Ambassadors trick basketball team were in Storm Lake Wednesday to perform but they took time to visit with Storm Lake and St. Mary's middle school students. / Lorri Glawe

Storm Lake and St. Mary's students had the opportunity to meet members of the Harlem Ambassadors, a exhibition team of talented male and female basketball performers, who were in town for a fundraiser performance Wednesday evening. The Ambassadors visited the Storm Lake Middle School, encouraging kids to work hard in school, respect themselves and their peers, listen to adult authority figures, believe in themselves, set goals, and focus on their education so they can achieve their goals.

The program is ideal for middle age students who are faced with peer pressure and learning to make good decisions.

"Setting yourself up to go above and beyond your expectations makes you extraordinary," said member Sharise. "Say I am extraordinary," she told the students, who chanted back.

The players push a message of substance-abuse-free lifestyle.

Team member Derek told the students he grew up in a city where people his age were killing, robbing and stealing. "I had no positive people around me so I set myself apart from them. People told me I couldn't be different but I showed them I was different."

His message to the students is to stay in school and ask for help when they need it.

"Impossible," said team member Jerome, "is just a word." He stressed to the students that nothing is impossible - that they can do whatever there hearts desire as long as they strive for it. Player Nick talked of confidence - the positive ability to do anything.

He shared that he always wanted to play college basketball and his grandparents put great confidence in him and he went on to be an all-american basketball player while in college.

Larry told the students that all he wanted to do when he was young was play - but in order to do that, he was responsible for getting his homework done first. "Responsible," he said, "is taking care of your duties. Listen to your teachers ands parents and don't let anyone tell you you can't do anything."

Team member Leah told the students she grew up holding in her feelings when she was hurting inside.

"The teachers, faculty and all these people around you are your support system. They're all here to support you. there's no reason to hurt inside when there is someone that can help you. Speak out."

Master of ceremonies for the team, Adam, spoke to the students about wisdom.

"That may sound weird - only old people have wisdom. When you are young you are smart - you know things but when you get older you have wisdom - taking that information and applying it to your life. Wisdom is in each of you right now; you all have greatness, it's already inside of you. Wisdom will carry you to the next level."

The team members shared with the students, "You all possess greatness. Work at it. Ask for help. Stay drug free. Stay in school and we betcha can become anything you want to be."

Sharing stories with young people is an important part of the Harlem Ambassadors.

"We provide more than entertainment," said Adam, following the assembly. "We want to bring value to and benefit the kids so that they will learn to do the right things. Most of the members of the Harlem Ambassadors have had rough backgrounds and they overcame those to become successful.

Coach and organizer of the team comments in the mission of the team, "Kids may not always take what their parents say to heart, but they'll listen to athletes who have a message," said Lade Majic, coach of the Harlem Ambassadors. "It's our way of reaching kids. Part of my life is devoted to keeping kids focused on making good choices in life."

The Harlem Ambassadors team was organized in 1997 and have performed in all 50 states and in several countries. They were brought to Storm Lake by the SL rotary Club.

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