July 24, 2013
By Chelsea Smith
AUBURN - The Auburn Women's Basketball team hosted Basketball with BraveHearts Saturday, July 20 at the Auburn Arena.
When Auburn senior Tyrese Tanner began her internship with the Expressions of a Brave Heart program, she knew she wanted her team to collaborate with this organization.
"We are a caring team, and love to help the community," she says. "We feel like everyone here is a family."
This strong sense of family is what prompted Tanner to create BraveHearts with Basketball, a summer event for all participants of Expressions of a Brave Heart. The event allows members of BraveHearts the chance to meet the Auburn Women's Basketball team, play basketball one-on-one with team members, tour the Auburn Arena and feel connected to the Auburn family.
"One of the program's primary goals is for the kids to feel like they are an integrated part of the Auburn community," says Dr. Danilea Werner, co-director of the Expressions of a Brave Heart program.
Angie Burque, creator and director of Expressions of a Brave Heart, believes collaborating with the Auburn Women's Basketball team is a great idea. Burque's "desire for kids that are older, who have special needs, to experience activities they wouldn't normally get to experience" is what inspired her to create the Expressions of a Brave Heart program.
"As the kids get older, the activities they can participate in become more limited," says Burque.
Expressions of a Brave Heart is designed specifically for teens and young adults with moderate to severe special needs, ages 11-21. Members of the program meet with student volunteers bi-monthly throughout the fall and spring semesters. The program offers classes in art, dance and music, and includes a showcase at the end of each semester.
"The program currently has about 65 student volunteers from all majors," says Werner.
According to Werner, members of BraveHearts are paired with student volunteers who become "coaches" in different areas of the program. Working with the same student during each session of the program allows each participant to develop a relationship with the volunteer, and also helps the volunteer encourage and support the participant on an individual basis.
Tanner believes this one-on-one interaction with the participants is the best part of working with Expressions of a Brave Heart.
"Just seeing how happy they are. It's so special to see them smiling and having fun."
The Expressions of a Brave Heart program welcomes volunteers from all majors. For additional information on how to become a volunteer with BraveHearts, please contact Angie Burque at email@example.com