Jordin Sparks gives DFW kids a note of praise for their work

DALLAS -- She is an American Idol, and on Tuesday, she became a North Texas idol as well.

Jordin Sparks, who won the popular TV competition in 2007 when she was only 17, invited two teams of elementary school students from the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee's SLANT 45 initiative to a sound check at the House of Blues, where she performed Tuesday night.

Sparks chose the Fort Worth and Frisco teams to represent the dozens of projects that kids have adopted as part of SLANT 45, which encourages young people to give back to their community.

"Thank you for coming out," she said from the stage. "This is going to be a lot of fun, and I am so excited and happy you came."

Three girls ages 8 to 9 -- Camille Hall, Tia Jackson and Ciara Cortez -- represented Team CTC (Cool Talented Capable) from Fort Worth. Camille's mother, Angela Hall, and Tia's mother, Marian Jackson, chaperoned the girls to the House of Blues.

"We were on a hike and bike at a park near The Ballpark in Arlington and saw ducks in the water and how dirty the water was," Angela Hall said. "The girls decided they wanted to clean up the lake."

The Frisco team is partnering with a nursing home where the seven youngsters each adopted a resident and are completing an art project with the residents.

When Sparks finished the sound check, she came out to meet the teams and pose for photos. And she presented each team with a $100 check to help complete the projects.

Sparks, 20, is the daughter of Phillippi Sparks, a defensive back who played for the New York Giants and briefly the Cowboys. Jordin Sparks sang the national anthem at Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz., in 2008 and kicked off Super Bowl XLIV in Miami in February with the Jordin Sparks Experience, a series of events to raise money for charities. The Experience is scheduled to participate in Super Bowl Week next February.

She wore a T-shirt on Tuesday inscribed with the name of her own charity -- "I'm M.A.D. Are You?" -- which encourages people of all ages to "Make a Difference."

"It's so exciting to see kids at a young age want to give back, to make a difference," Sparks said. "A ton of kids want to help, and this can make a huge impact."

SLANT 45 has enlisted 6,800 elementary school kids on 619 teams thus far. Angie Bulaich, who oversees the program for the host committee with Amanda Gibbons, the project manager of Big Thought in Dallas, said the Dallas school district is integrating SLANT 45 into its summer camps program, which includes 8,000 more youngsters.

PETE ALFANO, 817-390-7985

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