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McTigue student wins 1 of 12 spots on U.S. sports calendar

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Kenneth Powell's T-shirt design put him on the January calendar.

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Kenneth Powell seems a little shy - and at 13, a little young - for his face to be plastered on a national calendar.

The McTigue Junior High student is not a model or celebrity. Not yet anyway. But Kenneth is “Mr. January” in the National Youth Sports Program calendar.

The calendar, which contains artwork from students who participated in the national program this past summer, is given out to colleges around the country.

He won one of the 12 coveted spots when his T-shirt design was selected as one of the 12 best out of entries from around the country. Kenneth is the first Toledoan to win the spot on the calendar since the contest started in 1997.

“We had an art class and they asked us to make a logo,” said the eighth-grader. “I did it around the theme, a family celebration.”

The young Powell's picture accompanies the design, along with his answer to the question, “What's the best part of having a [National Youth Sports Program] family?”

Kenneth responded, “I learned lessons about why I shouldn't use drugs. I also learned about good sportsmanship and that there is no `I' in team and winning isn't everything. My NYSP family taught me that having fun is what counts.”

“He's a quiet, soft-spoken and well-mannered young man,” said Dr. Ruthie Kucharewski, associate professor in the University of Toledo's College of Health and Human Services. Dr. Kucharewski runs the program through the college. “He is very artistically talented. I was stunned when I heard the news about the calendar. We are very excited for Kenneth and excited for the university as well.”

Kenneth's entry was selected locally from roughly 300 student designs. James Jeffrey, a university graduate assistant who helped with the summer camp program at UT this past year, said Powell's work immediately stood out, even though the student didn't.

“He's kind and unassuming,” Mr. Jeffrey said. “He was always good at following directions, but I really didn't know him from any other student until he won the contest. He's one of those good team players.”

The National Youth Sports Program helps sponsor camps at more than 200 colleges and universities around the country. In 1997, NYSP started a poster design contest for students who participate in the camps.

Each institution selects one design to be nominated for the contest. The NYSP national office selects 12 winners.

“I think Kenneth Powell captured the spirit of the 2002 family focus in his poster design,” said Edward Thiebe, president of the National Youth Sports Program in Indianapolis. “The calendar is something that we do to show off the talents of students in the program nationwide. It's an honor to get your design on here.”

The month-long free summer day camp lets disadvantaged children stay active over the summer with sports activities and getting hot lunches. The majority of the families come from socioeconomic backgrounds that are below the national poverty level, and more than 90 percent of the participants were African-American.

The age of participants run from 10 to 16 years old. Kenneth's mother, Stacey, said she was surprised when she heard the news about her son's honor.

“They have been very helpful to him at the university,” Ms. Powell said.

“He's always liked to draw. I put him in the program to give him something to do over the summer, but we never expected this. He will participate in it next year.”

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