By Tommi Vincent
On July 24, 2018 I took a site visit to Humphries Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia to evaluate the school community, and determine if it was the next location for Vincent Country Safe Zone Activity Day during Super Bowl week. Every student deserves to receive a high-quality education with equitable resources available to ensure students start out on an even playing field. Public education, like food, is a right not a privilege. Unfortunately, there are significant disparities, and according to a 2016 report published by EdBuild ( https://edbuild.org/content/23-billion), a 23-billion-dollar gap. According to the report, white school districts receive 23-billion-dollars more of state and local funding than nonwhite schools serving the same number of students. The funding largely depends on the property taxes. Communities that are predominately white are in wealthier areas which results in more tax dollars collected. Hence, right out of the gate the playing field in uneven. Children do not get to choose their circumstances, they are born into them. Our evaluation is not because we believe some students are more deserving than others. It is to ensure we select a school community that is currently underserved in need of hope in a future. Vincent Country’s objective is to provide a day filled with fun activities, while connecting the school with community partners who can assist with much needed resources.
My visit to Humphries was pleasantly reminiscent of my time at Joyce Kilmer Elementary School in Trenton, New Jersey. I have many fond memories of elementary school, and my interactions with students and teachers. That time period had a positive impact on my life. You could feel the warmth permeating throughout the Humphries atmosphere. The aroma of cafeteria school lunch saturated the hallways, beautiful girls and boys hustled and bustled throughout the halls, and teachers and faculty members greeted every student by name. In my heart it felt so right, and quickly confirmed just a few minutes into my conversation with Principal Mitchell. I knew this was it! Humphries was a school community doing a whole lot with a little. I could only imagine what could be done if they received a little support and encouragement for the wonderful job they are doing. You cannot take the latter part for granted. Acknowledging their efforts was a vital step in infusing hope. The teachers and faculty are the heart of the school, while the students are the beat!
We planned for several months with our partner Cigna, who already was doing great work at the school, which made the partnership a perfect fit. On January 29, 2018 we had a successful Vincent Country Safe Zone Activity Day at Humphries Elementary School. While students enjoyed zones of agility drills, dancing, baseball, jump rope, and bounce house obstacle courses, teachers and faculty received amazing life coaching sessions. We are so grateful for all of the support we received from Cigna, NFL Legends, Adidas, RISE (Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality), Radio One Atlanta, NFL Players Wives Association, Mase Training, NFL Player Engagement, NFL Football Operations, Chick-fil-A, and our most important partner Humphries Elementary School!
Vincent Country Safe Zone Activity Day comes in to infuse hope and provide aspiration that circumstances do not determine the ultimate outcome for the student’s life, they will have the power to determine the outcome. Troy and I are walking, living and breathing testaments of that fact. The worry-free fun zone was filled with joy and laughter from the students, faculty, and volunteers. It was a moment in time to bottle up and hopefully to encourage others to support local public schools in underserved communities. Together we win and have the power to make a positive social impact!