By Kayla Robinson
EAST LANSING, Mich. – With the Flint water crisis affecting thousands of people, players on the Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball team and the head coach, Tom Izzo, decided to see what they could do to help out and took a trip to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint on Wednesday, Feb. 10.
Many households throughout Flint have been found to have lead-contaminated water since the city switched its water source to the Flint River almost two years ago.
Human geography junior Breaunte Brown, a Flint native, said the crisis was a shock for his hometown.
“I was completely caught off guard by the news of our water situation,” Brown said. “I was aware that it wasn’t exactly the best a couple years ago, but the degree of contamination drastically changed.”
Brown also said how serious of an issue lead can be, as well.
“The fact that it was kept a secret for so long to save money? Unforgivable,” Brown said. “I don’t know why more action hasn’t been taken against the politicians who did this.”
Stacy Winchester, program coordinator of The Boys and Girls Club, said the team’s visit was beneficial and helped bring even more awareness to the issue.
“One of the first things that Izzo mentioned was that they had just taken a hard loss to Purdue,” Winchester said. “Even though Wednesday is the team’s only day off, and despite coming off that disappointing loss, the team told him that they still wanted to come to the Boys and Girls Club regardless and be here with the kids.”
Winchester also said that the kids were not expecting this visit.
“At that point, Izzo said ‘I brought some guys with me’ and the team surprised the kids by coming out of the back room and walked onto our gymnasium floor,” Winchester said.
Guard Lourawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn, Jr. was one of the players who went to Flint and said what he did with the kids in the club.
“We made some posters with them,” Nairn said. “We also played a little ball with them; just shooting around and having fun.”
Nairn also said what the impact of going to Flint had on him.
“There is so much more to life than the game of basketball,” Nairn said. “I mean, sometimes we may get mad when we miss a shot or something like that. However, those kids are going through something that they can’t control at all; so, it meant a lot to me to be able to help put a smile on their faces.”
Winchester said that the team’s visit left an impact on the kids, as well.
“Of course the kids talked about how tall they were; they all were even more inspired to become basketball players,” Winchester said. “When they saw the players working on recycling posters with them and talking about recycling, they all were encouraged to be a part of that. As of today, the kids are more conscientious about recycling and have done so more since the team came.”
The team’s visit also led to more volunteer opportunities at the Boys and Girls Club.
Senior Public Relations manager Rob Ponto said what another event related to the water crisis that occurred on Feb. 20, and was called a “One-Stop-Shop,” consisted of.
“Flint residents could visit the Boys and Girls Club parking lot and gym and receive free water, free water testing kits, free water filters, recycling bags and packets of recycling and lead prevention information,” Ponto said. “People could also sign up for curbside recycling provided by the State of Michigan.”
Ponto also said their main goal was to distribute much needed supplies and to create awareness.
“We are committed to finding new ways to support our neighbors,” Ponto said. “This event is one of many ways we continue to reach out to the people of Flint.”