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Cameron Meadows, an A.R. Rucker Middle School student, recently returned from a 10-day People to People Sports Ambassador Program in Austria.
In addition to competing in basketball at the Youth Friendship Games, Meadows trained with experience coaches and explored Europe with teammates from across the U.S.
During the regular season, Meadows played with Immanuel Baptist Church, which won the Moriah Baptist Association age division title. He also plays football with the Lancaster County Parks and Recreation Commission and is a member of the Columbus Parker Youth Track Club.
The People to People program gives participants a sampling of international competition as well as the chance to build relationships with other athletes from another part of the world.
The Youth Friendship Games offer eight different sports. Before competition and during breaks from play, delegates took cultural excursions.
Meadows visited the imperial castle in Schonbrunn in Vienna where he viewed the apartment of former Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth. He also visited Austria’s oldest amusement park, Vienna Prater where James Bond, agent 007, once rode the famous giant ferris wheel.
The final trip was at the Mauthausen concentration camp, one of the most notorious camps within the entire Nazi camp system during World War II.
Meadows was selected in the sports ambassador program and will be sharing his experiences when he begins school at A.R. Rucker. The group was accompanied by coaches, leaders and a delegation manager who coordinated the cultural and recreational ventures.
Before departing, Meadows attended several orientations with local leaders and coaches to prepare for the trip and learn about the program, destination and the responsibilities of representing the U.S. in international competition.
“I want to thank everyone who contributed in my effort to get to experience this lifetime event. I want to thank my pastor, Rev. Ronald Cunningham, my family and friends for their prayers while I traveled,” Meadows said. “I enjoyed seeing things I’ve never seen before. Mostly, I am glad I was able to represent my country by being granted the opportunity to play basketball and exercise the gift God gave me. It was a blast.”
President Dwight D. Eisenhower founded People to People during his presidency in 1956. He believed ordinary citizens of different nations could make a difference where governments could not.
People to People Sports Ambassador programs are based in Spokane, Wash., and have been coordinating educational travel for 50 years.