No, the focus of the Grassroot Project team at George Washington is not to install grass on the soccer and lacrosse field on the Mount Vernon Campus. They have a much larger purpose to serve in the Washington, D.C., area.
The Grassroot Colonials are part of a larger group under the Grassroot Project name, which seeks to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS by using collegiate student-athletes and an interactive, engaging curriculum to educate local middle school students at over 30 different sites in the district. The Grassroot Project intends to change the way these young adults make choices so Washington can have a more responsible population in the years to come.
"We are not just there to teach about HIV/AIDS, but to help the kids understand that they have the ability to be resilient, make their own choices and have the confidence to do so,"said Grassroot Colonials Program Coordinator and GW women's soccer junior Jane Wallis.
Last month, Grassroots chose four GW student-athletes to become part of the Grassroots Leaders team, a new leadership development program. Wallis, lacrosse sophomore Mackenzie Jones, cross country junior Jackson Carnes, and rowing senior Lauren Byrne will all be part of the pilot program this year. This selection also included a three-day retreat in Orlando, Fla., that consisted of intensive leadership training.
Grassroots includes teams from Georgetown University and Howard University, who, along with GW, collaborate with each other and put rivalries aside. The program also plans on integrating American University and the University of Maryland to expand its impact on at-risk youth. The influence of the Grassroot Project does not begin and end with these middle school students, however.
"Being involved with Grassroots has influenced me more than I would have ever thought when I signed up freshman year," said Resource Coordinator and GW lacrosse sophomore Mackenzie Jones. "Looking back on college I think being involved with the Grassroot Project will be one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences I have."