By Brittney Gathen, Special to The New Tri-State Defender

Determined to make a lasting impact, Britney Burse – a former physical education/lifetime wellness teacher – is four-plus weeks into her new role as assistant director of the Ed Rice Community Center. The New Tri-State Defender caught up with Burse to discuss how she plans to go about doing that, why she thinks the center is an important part of Frayser and more.

TSD: Why did you decide … to work at the Ed Rice Community Center?

Britney Burse: I wanted to come here so that I could work with at-risk kids from poverty areas, and try to help make a difference in their lives. I taught high school kids for three years, and I also do personal training and sports training. I enjoy building relationships with kids and trying to help them and motivate them as a mentor.

TSD: What’s a typical day like for you? What are your responsibilities?

BB: I open up the gym, talk to my kids and staff (and) we make plans for the day according to different activities to do with the kids. I also make sure that they’re set. I try to talk to them about anything that’s going on and I try to get their minds off of the negative things that are going on outside of what we’ve got going on at camp. I also have a certain group of kids that I do behavior plans and mentoring for; kids who are experiencing (negative) things at home and who may come and act out at the community center.

We also focus on allowing kids to try and experience things that they’ve never experienced and take them outside of the Frayser community. We do educational field trips; they’ll go to the National Civil Rights Museum and the Children’s Museum. We’ll take the teenagers to the mall and teach them how to fill out job applications, and we’ll also take them to the University of Memphis to show them what it’s like to be in college. They do team-building exercises and work on stock portfolios and are learning about the stock exchange. We also have a lady come in who talks to the kids about food nutrition and teaches them how to eat healthy. I do a fitness class with the kids to prevent childhood obesity.

TSD: What are some things you want to accomplish as the assistant director of the community center?

BB: I would like to build more programs for the youth to be involved in. I’d like to have a mentoring program, additional sports programs and an after-school program to help kids with their homework.

TSD: What’s the most rewarding part of your job? What’s the most challenging part?

BB: The most challenging part is that I can’t necessarily take the kids out of the bad situations that they’re in. If I could, I would like to remove every kid from a bad situation, but I can’t. So, the most rewarding part is to be able to mentor the kids and make a difference in their lives, introduce them to new things and teach them about furthering their education.

TSD: Why do you think that the Ed Rice Community Center is an important part of the Frayser community?

BB: It allows the kids to have somewhere to go and fellowship and build relationships with different people.

TSD: What impact do you hope to leave on those that come to the Ed Rice Community Center and those in the Frayser community in general?

BB: In general, I hope to make people realize that it takes a village to raise a child, and that we need to come together as a team so that we can make a difference in the lives of the youth, because the youth are our future.