Nina Brekelman’s Memorial Prize Proposal
Fulbright Class of 2015-2016
Our goal is to create a project that Nina herself would have created. We hope that it can serve as a legacy that her friends and family can look at with memory and pride of the amazing things Nina stood for. Writing this memorial prize proposal has given us, the current Fulbright class, the opportunity to hear stories about Nina, connect with her closest friends, and begin to know the humble, genuine, hard-working, intelligent, and humanitarian person that we would have been honored to be friends with during our Fulbright year. While talking to one of Nina’s best friends, Mary Grace, she told us that her family and friends agreed that when the Fulbright year started in September they shipped Nina’s spirit to Jordan so she could be with us and pursue her dreams. We hope that with this proposal, we can serve Nina’s spirit and memory well.
Our proposal for the Nina Brekelman’s Memorial Prize is to work in conjunction with Nina’s friends to create an annual running camp in Amman for young girls ages 8-14. The purpose of the camp is to promote Nina’s vision that participation in athletics can foster self-confidence, leadership, and lasting friendships among young girls.
Running in Jordan is stigmatized – especially for women. We hope to work with the young girls to show them that running can be fun, healthy and for anyone. With this point in mind we will not make this into a rigorous training camp, but instead do fun running activities with the girls. Every day we hope to start in the morning with a longer running activity while the weather is still cool, then mid-day bring in a speaker to talk to them about running, nutrition, women empowerment, etc., then end the day with a team-building exercise or fun running competition. We hope that these activities will build the girls self-confidence and teach them the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.
The first year of the camp will be a pilot project where we start small with a group of about 15 girls. We hope in the following years the camp will grow in popularity and we will expand it to accommodate more girls. The camp will take place in March over 5 consecutive Saturdays with each day lasting for 4 hours from 10 am to 2pm. We hope to have the last Saturday of the camp coincide with the Dead Sea Ultra Marathon that will be taking place on April 8th this year. As part of the camp with will bring the girls to the race and pay for their entrance into the youth 4.2 km race. Nina’s family is planning to attend this race in honor of Nina winning the half marathon last year and we hope to have the girls run in the race in support of Nina. Additionally, to show our support for Nina and her cause we will get as many Fulbright students to run in the race with Nina patches on our shirts provided by Mary Grace. At the race we will spread awareness about the camp and gain support for next year.
Sport City is an ideal location for our camp because it is located in Amman, it has outdoor running space for the girls, and it has a positive athletic atmosphere. In order to make the camp more inclusive for the public we will distribute brochures on the importance of healthy living and athletics at Sport City, and every Saturday we will bring in a speaker who discuss various topics such as nutrition, running, team-building, etc. The speaker’s presentation will be open for anyone who wishes to attend, but will be mandatory for the girls in the running camp. If we are able to hold the camp at Sport City, the speakers can present in the squash center where there are enough seats to accommodate many people.
The price of the camp will be free and a daily transportation stipend will be given to each girl in order to not exclude the participation of girls from various socioeconomic backgrounds. In order to recruit girls for the camp we will work alongside organizations that have similar athletic opportunities for young girls such as Unlimited Distances, Run Jordan, and Right to Play. Mohammad Sweity also agreed to help recruit girls for the camp. Through these efforts we plan to have 20 girls signed up for the camp by mid-February, 15 accepted and 5 on the waitlist. Additionally, we hope to recruit 2-3 local volunteers and a coach to help run the camp. Many in Fulbright have already expressed interest in volunteering their time, but we hope to also recruit local Jordanian, Palestinian, or Syrian women to be closer cultural role models for the girls. Additionally, local volunteers will help make the camp sustainable since they will remain in Jordan even after our Fulbright class is no longer in the region.