Rising Stars, Inc. Basketball Programs Follow the Motto ‘Play, Learn and Grow’
At Rising Stars, Inc., a team of educators and community leaders address many of the daily problems that students face throughout the formative years of high school. To assist these teenagers to succeed in their journey, Rising Stars, Inc. has utilized the sport of basketball and the power of teams as a valuable teaching tools to promote education and reinforce the values. In this brief Q&A, Rising Stars, Inc., founder and President, Paul Savramis, discusses how the program has empowered students in and around the New York City area to make correct decisions throughout their formative years and encouraged them to make play a vital element of their overall growth.
Q: What are the most important platforms of Rising Stars, Inc.?
Paul Savramis, Rising Stars, Inc.: Our organization is founded upon promoting education, reinforcing values, and the development of life skills through basketball. The mission of Rising Stars is to help children in their maturation throughout the formative years of HS to succeed and become integral members of the community.
Q: What’s the desired result of these efforts?
Paul Savramis, Rising Stars, Inc.: Rising Star’s ultimate goal is to see every child enrolled in its programs graduate HS issue free and college ready. The benefits for our participants include the opportunity to gain purpose and direction while enjoying the structure of being part of a team.
Q: How has Rising Stars, Inc. been able to use sports as the vehicle to enroll students and why is it such an effective tool?
Paul Savramis, Rising Stars, Inc.: Rising Stars has established the reputation of being one of the best instructional basketball programs available. They also achieved success in national competition and have seen a number of their student athletes go on to play in college. Their leaders use that history and that reputation to enroll children on teams and in programs that are both fun and informative: programs they want to be in and teams they want to be a part of — a perfect balance of play, plus the motivation to learn and grow.
Q: In terms of instruction, what are the core fundamentals of your basketball lessons?
Paul Savramis, Rising Stars, Inc.: We understand and recognize that children are more likely to participate in sports or activities that they are having fun with and that they enjoy being a part of. We like to use the term “fun-damentals” in describing how we teach, as more teaching can occur when children want to learn. All of our camps and clinics are interactive. Every child has a basketball in their hands and are engaged and feel like they are a part of the process. The next step is to relate basketball skills to life skills. Our coaches are also certified teachers, fully capable to be a model of how to transform basketball skills into life skills. Building a sense of worth in each and every child is the key.
Q: In your opinion, why do sports offer valuable life lessons to today’s youth?
Paul Savramis, Rising Stars, Inc.: The basic concept of using basketball to promote excellence in education revolves around utilizing the power of teams to build and develop character. All learning, including life skills, can occur through playing. Learning the difference between right or wrong and developing a sense of fairness are all a part of playing games. Basic skills of interaction, communication and working together are taught from being a part of a team. Life lessons naturally evolve from learning how to be a team player.
Q: Is there a reason why Rising Stars, Inc. targets the teenage population?
Paul Savramis, Rising Stars, Inc.: Actually, Rising Star’s programs target elementary students and enroll them into our yearly programs in third grade. Our goal is to have them remain in our programs so that we can address and target the problems they will face as teenagers in and throughout HS. Students must navigate through a series of tough decisions during their high-school years; for instance, saying “no” to drugs, gangs, and other distractions. All of our coaches are certified teachers that serve as role models and guides as participants develop the necessary life skills in our programs to accept and overcome any challenge they will face in HS.
Q: What specific activities help children to learn?
Paul Savramis, Rising Stars, Inc.: “Play” is a broad definition. In order to learn the most critical of life’s lessons, the child must possess an ample amount of motivation and sense of right from wrong. If he or she craves the challenge of learning through the sport of basketball, it is possible to leverage these same skills in all aspects of life. That’s the vehicle Rising Stars has been able to utilize, but all sports can be used to accomplish the same goal. All teams, no matter what sport, build strength and character. The challenge we face as educators and coaches alike is that we now have children playing less and more children giving up competitive team sports prior to entering HS. That’s a real problem.
Q: Why has Rising Stars, Inc. been so successful in addressing this problem?
Paul Savramis, Rising Stars, Inc.: Our uniquely designed instructional camps and clinics have consistently been heralded for the sheer joy that children feel by being a part of them. In society, too much emphasis is placed on the importance of winning vs playing. When a child feels pressure to win, he feels pressure — and that’s not a great feeling to have when you are just starting out in life. Learning a sport or a skill has to have positive reinforcement. Parents and overzealous coaches are a part of the problem. Our first and foremost priority is to see our kids have fun. Utilizing the game of basketball promotes education, reinforces good values and provides the youth with a safe environment to Play, Learn and Grow — but they need to have fun to be able to complete all three.
Q: Where does your organization see these programs going in the future?
Paul Savramis, Rising Stars, Inc.: We continue to take a holistic approach towards a child’s development so that the emphasis is placed on all aspects of physical, social and emotional well-being. We strive to provide ongoing youth-centered activities that will provide all participants with the mindset and skills to graduate high school, issue-free and college-ready. We will continue to identify the needs of the children in our programs so we can provide the children at risk of not graduating HS with the academic support they need to graduate. In doing so, we will continue to work toward lowering the ever-growing poverty rate, which will, in turn, promote healthy living and focus on the rewards of academic success and contribution to the community and society as a whole. If we maintain the use of the power of teams as a conduit to mentor, we can expect to succeed in enriching the lives of youth. It’s a very positive cycle of change.