From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 12:59:00


                       NATIONAL RECOGNITION 
                         By Julian Shipp 
LUBBOCK, Texas--A Presbyterian shoes program, originally reported in "THE 
NEWS of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)," "News Briefs" and "Presbyterian 
Survey" magazine,  has left a big impression here following national 
recognition from an awards program sponsored by the Coalition on Education 
Initiatives (CEI). 
     "P.S.--Go For It" received an honorable mention in the Wednesday, May 
3, edition of "USA TODAY" as one of 60 outstanding education initiatives in 
America. The CEI's awards program is titled "Community Solutions for 
     Out of the 60 programs selected, there were seven national winners and 
53 honorable mentions.  Five of the programs selected were in Texas, 
including "P.S.--Go For It," which involves children living in an at-risk 
neighborhood on the east side of Lubbock. 
     For these children, wearing fancy footgear often means having to 
resort to criminal activity like selling drugs, stealing or assaulting 
other children who have the coveted shoes. Kids who distribute or sell 
drugs can afford to buy premium athletic shoes that other kids only wish 
they could afford. 
     Spearheaded by the session of Messiah Presbyterian Church, "P.S.--Go 
For It" is designed to induce students at Iles Elementary School to keep 
away from the dope dealer's fast-money lifestyle and stay off drugs. The 
program was officially launched on Jan. 9. 
     "P.S.--Go For It" awards each of 54 children (three students in 18 
classrooms) a pair of expensive sports shoes for being an outstanding 
student, athlete or citizen. Selected by their teachers, the winning 
students are given a certificate, which they take to Footlocker or Kids 
Footlocker (located in their local mall) and use to buy any pair of shoes 
they desire. 
     The school's principal and staff assist the church (a 21-member 
African-American congregation of Palo Duro Presbytery) in conducting the 
program. The program was conceived last June during a meeting of the 
school's community involvement committee. 
     The Rev. Pam Powell, pastor of Messiah Presbyterian Church, said 
"P.S.--Go For It" will be listed in the CEI's "Community Solutions For 
Education 1995 Resource Guide," which will be available in late summer. 
     "It's really exciting," said Powell, who said she was inspired to 
create the shoes program after hearing about local children involved in 
drug and gang activity. "Especially since the General Assembly contributed 
$2,000 to this program in 1994 and it's a brand-new program which has 
already gotten national recognition. 
     "Our congregation is the only African-American congregation in our 
presbytery, so it's kind of a neat thing for our church, too," Powell said. 
"Sometimes people in a small congregation feel like there's nothing they 
can contribute, and now they're really changing their attitudes about 
     Suzanne Christopher, school principal, said another shoe awards 
ceremony will be held on May 17. Following that, she said, the program will 
be evaluated by Powell, one elder of the church, the major financial 
contributors, a representative from each major shoe supplier, Christopher 
and a committee of teachers and administrators.  
     "We'd sure love to have the program continue," Christopher said. "It's 
just been a fantastic program all the way around." 
     The CEI is a partnership established in 1990 to help communities 
improve the quality of education across the U.S.A. As a catalyst for 
change, the Coalition links education-related problems with viable 
solutions, seeking to provide information in easy-to-use formats. 
     The group funds the publication of special editorial features of "USA 
TODAY," provides feedback to readers, and publishes the CEI resource guide. 
The Coalition also sponsors the Community Solutions for Education national 
awards program. 
     Alexandra Ide, "USA TODAY" spokesperson, said the awards program 
winners will receive crystal trophies and the runners-up will get 
     The 1995 Coalition sponsors are Apple Computer, Inc.; Proctor & Gamble 
Company's Crest and Tide brands; Sallie Mae, State Farm Insurance 
Companies; and Subaru of America, Inc. 
     The 1995 Coalition Advisory Council includes American Academy of 
Pediatrics, American Association of School Administrators, American Dental 
Association, American Federation of Teachers, the Council for Advancement 
and Support of Education, the Council of the Great City Schools, National 
Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of 
Secondary School Principals, National Association of Student Financial Aid 
Administrators, National Education Association, National Parent-Teacher 
Association, National School Boards Association, Mercy Hospital of 
Pittsburgh, National School Public Relations Association and the U.S. 
Department of Education. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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