On a cool Saturday morning, a group of honors program students from the College of Health and Human Services gathered at Teague Elementary in Northwest Fresno to engage youth in a series of sports-related activities, all meant to expose them to positive recreational activities.

In that particular area, known as Highway City, many youth lack recreational opportunities. Through a collaboration with the Highway City Community Development and the College of Health and Human Services’ Honors Program, the honors students sought to implement a sustainable program designed to address the lack of recreational activities available and to provide a positive outlet to disadvantaged youth.


“The team aimed to provide children with the opportunity to learn positive skills and habits through lessons learned during recreational activities that will carry them over to adolescence, creating healthy, alternative outlets in their lives,” said Community Health senior, Araceli Melchor Cruz.

During their first event on February 4th, the group implemented four activities, including soccer, basketball, flag football and crafts, in addition to other activities like board games and legos. They also encompassed other sports like volleyball and tennis into the mix.

Honors Program students, Araceli Melchor Cruz (L) and Luis Vargas (R).

 “The first Highway City Saturday Sports was very successful with about 50 children attending and 20 volunteers,” Melchor said. “Healthy snacks were provided to children at the end of each Saturday Sports day. Snacks were not part of our original plan, but were a very positive addition to the program.”

Melchor said Interprofessional collaboration among the team was essential to the success of the project. The team of honors students consisted of students majoring in a wide array of disciplines, including kinesiology, nursing, speech-language pathology, recreational administration, social work and public health.

Students Catherine Obrero (R) and Luis Vargas give instructions to kids.

“Everyone had unique ideas, perspectives and educational backgrounds which allowed for very successful discussions while planning the program,” Melchor said. “The benefits of an interdisciplinary collaboration are the knowledge, abilities, and connections each person brings to the table. Working with diverse backgrounds allowed us to come up with ideas and solutions. A kinesiology major sees a problem differently than a social worker. Being able to see the problem from different angles was an asset.”

Youth from Northwest Fresno engage in arts and crafts.

Ultimately, Melchor said that was able to grow as a professional from working on this project and that the honors program as a whole is a great opportunity for students to work with passionate, highly-motivated and caring peers.

“Everyone in the program is amazing. Professors are truly invested in their students and always willing to help and my peers are incredibly kind and intelligent,” Melchor said. “The best part of the program is working with peers from different educational backgrounds. Everyone has different abilities and bring a unique perspective to the team.”

Although this year’s honors group will no longer be working on the Highway City Project, they remain hopeful that the program will continue in future honors courses.


L to R: Ian Troupe (Nursing), Luis Vargas (Recreation Administration), Bethany Warnes (Athletic Training), Araceli Melchor (Community Health), Maeghan Pershall (Speech-Language Pathology), Catherine Obrero (Kinesiology), Elizabeth Sanchez (Social Work) and Mark Rollins (Kinesiology). 

Learn more about the Honors Program in Collaborative Leadership by visiting the link.