r Especially for Athletes is a movement that is growing in middle schools and high schools around the state. The idea behind the program is to get athletes to use their influence and opportunities to become better people.
Jayden Barnum is part of the Especially for Athletes leadership team at Salem Hills High School. He said, “We’ve all seen those Disney movies with the typical jock who’s a jerk. Especially for Athletes is about getting rid of those stereotypes.”
Jayden said despite the name, you don’t have to be an athlete to be a part of the group. “It is for anyone willing to go by its principles and commit to taking action in the program.”
Those principles include looking for opportunities to make a positive difference and then taking action on them. Each member wears an “Eyes Up” wristband. “It’s there to remind us to keep our eyes up to look for opportunities and then doing the work and actually taking the action,” Barnum said.
There are 170 Especially for Athletes members at Salem Hills and in February they sponsored and fundraising and awareness week that raised $500 for Wasatch Mental Health.
The group meets regularly to talk about ways to get everyone to spread joy and make sure everyone is feeling alright. “Sometimes we name names and make sure we are looking out for everyone. We set goals to create an impact in our school,” Barnum said.
Barnum, a track and football athlete, joined Especially for Athletes because he liked the commitment and action parts of the program. “I really thought I could make a difference in my school and community. I could do more than I was doing then,” he said. “ It really has changed me. I’m not really looking to help myself but it’s blessed me a ton.”
Especially for Athletes will hold a leadership summit at Pleasant Grove High School on May 5. Members from schools across the state are invited to attend for a full day of games, activities and motivational messages.