Fun and games teach life lessons.
While helping young refugees learn how to play as part of a sports team, Meredith Whitley also is helping them learn how to live—and thrive—as part of a new community and culture.
A doctoral student in kinesiology in MSU’s College of Education, Whitley works at the Refugee Development Center, a nonprofit organization in downtown Lansing, with young people who have moved to the area from as far away as Tanzania and Burma. With coaching from Whitley and fellow MSU students, the youths have fun playing team sports while learning valuable life skills.
While the experience helps the youths assimilate and succeed, it provides Whitley with a different perspective on her research, which focuses on using sports as a means of promoting positive change in underserved youths.
“I thrive off of their excitement, their energy,” says Whitley. “And working with children, working with adolescents, is just exciting. It’s inspiring. I can’t think of anything better.”