Rising ninth-grader Noel Singh from Rockdale County High School is taping Memorial Middle School student Bryan Claritt's leg, while Heritage High School junior Melonie Campbell instructs. The students are part of the athletic aide summer camp this month, which trains students to assist with athletic injuries. Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith
CONYERS -- More high school students are being trained this summer to help them care for injured student athletes next school year.
In its sixth year, the student athletic aide program at Rockdale County Public Schools recently wrapped up its annual summer camp at the Rockdale Career Academy to train middle and high school students.
About 25 students went through the program this year, including 15 new students.
"It's a testamant to how this program has grown," said Kechia Rowles, athletic coordinator and trainer for RCPS, who leads the summer program. "The students, coaches and parents have seen the benefit. It brings joy to me to see the idea I had for this program come to fruition."
She said it has become a program that she would have benefitted from in high school herself.
"It's beyond what I could have imagined," said Rowles, who created the program to train high school students assist her and coaches at athletic events dealing with minor athletic injuries.
In the program, students learn how to assist with the injuries and basic wound care in middle and high school sports. They learn how to tape, bandage, stretch and other techniques.
They also get certified in CPR and first aid and study anatomy and rehabilitation, among other skills, over the summer.
"I wanted to try something different. I thought it would be a good experience," said rising ninth-grader Noel Singh, who will attend Rockdale County High School in the fall. "I've learned a lot of new things and different ways how the body works."
He hopes to work with the basketball teams this year and eventually go into the medical field.
Rising 11th-grader Eli Portis, who attend RCHS, is in his second year of the program, and he's helped with girls basketball and track, which he hopes will eventually help him in becoming a physical therapist.
He said he gets nervous sometimes, like once when a student jammed her finger at a basketball game, but he is used to common injuries like hurt ankles.
"It's interesting and fun," said fellow junior Maya Fomby from Salem High School.
Students must maintain a minimum 2.5 grade point average, like student athletes, to remain in the program.
Theys also can take classes in a curriculum pathway at RCA for students interested in becoming athletic aides.
Several of Rowles' former students are in post-secondary institutions studying in related athletic aide fields. Students could go on to have careers in the sports medicine field like athletic trainers, physical and recreational therapists and strength and conditioning specialists, among others.