Retired NBA Player John Wallace Returns to his High School Alma Mater to Host Basketball and Leadership Camp
(Rochester, NEW YORK, June 2, 2022) — Greece Athena High School and SpeakWell Youth Leadership – an elite youth leadership development program, have teamed up to host the John Wallace SpeakWell Basketball Camp, where Greece Athena graduate, Syracuse University legend, and first-round draft pick of the NY Knicks, John Wallace, will teach students basketball and leadership skills on and off the court. In addition to high-level basketball skills that helped Wallace become a “Beast of the Big East,” campers will learn critical social, emotional, communication, focus, and leadership skills, integrated into the camp through SpeakWell’s codified leadership curriculum – developed and taught by SpeakWell founder, Patty Kennedy.
The camp – scheduled to take place June 27-30 for Greece Athena High School students – is a testament to the Rochester community, parents, business leaders, and professional athletes coming together with a common goal: teaching kids the leadership skills they need to succeed on the court, and in life.
“I’m delighted to return to my hometown and help offer this incredible camp opportunity,” said Mr. Wallace. “Everything basketball teaches is important, but developing social and emotional skills overcoming fear, building resilience, developing a strong work ethic, teamwork, and effective communication – those are critical skills no matter what you do.”
Studies increasingly show the devastating, longer-term impact of the pandemic on students’ academic, physical, and emotional well-being, with depression and anxiety rates skyrocketing among teens, as coping and communication skills have plummeted. A report from Inside SEL cited a study by Tyton Partners noting nearly 75% of teachers feel their students have fallen behind academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. Harvard Business Review has published a number of studies citing emotional intelligence as critical to work and life success, and a research report from the American Psychological Association showed that Emotional Intelligence – specifically self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, social skills, and group problem solving – the core elements of SpeakWell’s curriculum – as key predictors of performance, critical to academic, athletic, and life success.
“We believe the John Wallace / SpeakWell Camp is an additional way to enrich our students’ experience and aligns well with our mission to provide a safe and productive learning environment where all students can grow, be successful, college, and career-ready,” said Kelly Flagler, Principal of Greece Athena. “I’ve long been a John Wallace fan, and am overjoyed to see our community, business leaders, SpeakWell and John come together to make this happen for our students.”
Camp funding and sponsorships were a collective effort provided by Greece Athena High School, the SpeakWell Fund, and leading area businesses including Greenlight Networks –New York’s fastest fiber-optic internet provider, and LeChase Construction Services – one of the nation’s top contractors.
“We’re delighted to support the camp, students, and families of Rochester,” said Beth Delforte, Greenlight Networks Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Development. “I know the critical importance of communication and leadership in business and in life. The camp teaches critical skills students need to succeed and offers Greenlight and LeChase employees an opportunity to be actively involved in building stronger communities and future leaders.”
Wallace — whose #44 jersey was retired by Syracuse University in February 2020, said he is focused on building stronger students, and better players, but also wants to give back to the community that gave him so much. “It’s amazing to see students realize the immediate growth, improve their self-confidence, and ability to work and communicate better together after just one day at camp,” said Wallace. “That goes a long way in building stronger students, as well as a stronger, safer, more productive society.”
The SpeakWell youth leadership program teaches students critical social, emotional, communication and leadership skills, offers students the chance to directly engage with high-profile athletes, actors, and business leaders, and provides unique opportunities for students to demonstrate learned leadership and communication skills. SpeakWell 7th-grade students became the first in the country from a K-8 school to deliver TEDx talks, publish national articles, and far exceed 12th-grade communication standards. To date, more than 30 middle and high school students have spoken on critical topics with senior executives from companies including UBS, BT, and Facebook.
SpeakWell began as an afterschool program in 2019 with nine students at St. Joseph’s School – Yorkville in NYC. In 2021, the SpeakWell curriculum was integrated into a summer camp model including the John Wallace SpeakWell Basketball Camp, led by retired NY Knick, John Wallace, and Amy Hargreaves SpeakWell Acting Camps, led by ‘Homeland’ & ’13 Reasons Why’ actress, Amy Hargreaves. In two years, SpeakWell grew from nine to more than 1,000 students and has expanded its summer camps to NYC, Westchester, Rochester, and Skaneateles. SpeakWell’s mission is to reach and teach 10,000 students by 2026. In addition to operating the programs and camps, the organization plans to license the SpeakWell curriculum to schools across the country.
The Rochester Camp is open to Greece Athena students. For more information, to sign up or set up a camp, or donate to scholarships visit http://www.speakwell.rocks or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE TO REPORTERS: The John Wallace SpeakWell Rochester Camp will take place June 27-30 from 9:30am-3:00pm at Greece Athena High School. To attend a portion of the camp or for interviews contact: Annie Nelson at 646-660-4507