Since she’s an N.C. State graduate, the idea of meeting Torry Holt and Russell Wilson thrilled Chelsey Ginger. She’s even more thrilled that the meeting will result in 20 scholarships to the Holt brothers’ football camp for Garner-area students.
Chelsey Ginger teaches at East Garner Magnet Middle School and runs that school’s chapter of the Police Athletics/Activities League, an outreach program for at-risk youths. She had attended Wilson’s passing academy with two kids whose parents couldn’t make it after the former N.C. State quarterback granted them free slots at his camp. There, she met Holt and Wilson and they chatted about East Garner and PAL.
Holt and his younger brother Terrence, both former N.C. State stars and NFL players, run a local nonprofit as well as their prominent football camp in Raleigh. Holt offered five scholarships to their camp on July 13 to Ginger on the spot. Later, a camp coordinator, called and told her 20 spots had been set aside for her to distribute.
“I was just really impressed with him, and how genuinely concerned he was to get these kids this opportunity,” Ginger said. “It could potentially be life-changing for some of our students.”
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She’s already filled 12 of the slots and intends to fill the remaining eight by the time of publication. Eight of the scholarships have gone to children from the PAL program she runs at East Garner, a program run primarily by Garner Police designed to provide positive alternatives for kids that might otherwise fall into the wrong crowd or kinds of activities.
For Ginger, helping the kinds of young people that will benefit from the scholarships has become part of life. She started teaching in Kannapolis northeast of Charlotte at 22, and began teaching in an alternative program called Second Chance at A.L Brown High School.
Most of the students in the program had gun and drug charges.
“My oldest kid was 20 and he had about eight drug charges,” she said.
She said that student as now been accepted to dental school at East Carolina University after two years at a community college and two more at ECU.
After three years in the Charlotte area she shifted to East Garner a bit over a year ago.
“I believe that’s kind of why I was hired at East Garner, because I had that background,” Ginger said. “I’m in this program now, and I love these kids.”
She took over the East Garner Middle chapter of PAL at the end of the last school year when the sponsor moved to another school and asked her to take over the 20-25 student club. The organization engages in a number of different athletic events as well as community service activities.
Ginger has taken groups of students to Hurricanes games, raced with them at go-carting tracks, taken them to the SPCA to learn how to handle animals, and helped them lay mulch all over the school for a beautification project.
“They had a blast with it, actually,” Ginger said.
In her experience, the children she ends up working with mostly need more of an adult presence to look up to in their lives, so she attends athletic and arts performances where she can.
“I think it makes a big difference,” she said of that positive adult influence.