By Joe Jarosz
November 11, 2015
KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Northeast Middle School principal Sabina Gonzales says her students have soccer madness.
On Friday, Nov. 6, Fourth District Councilwoman Jolie Justus, as well as staff from the Mattie Rhodes Center and Northeast Middle School joined students for an honorary kick-off event to celebrate the expansion of the Soccer for Success Program in the Greater Kansas City area.
The Mattie Rhodes Center was recently awarded a $311,000 grant from the U.S. Soccer Foundation and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention [OJJDP] to offer the Soccer for Success program to 800 kids in Kansas City. Soccer for Success is an school program created by the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s and uses soccer as a tool to address children’s health issues and juvenile delinquency, while promoting healthy lifestyles in urban underserved communities.
John Fierro, President and C.E.O. of Mattie Rhodes Center, said they are very excited to bring this free after school health and wellness program to local families. Northeast Middle School currently has 40 students involved in the program.
The event highlighted the program’s host sites and showcased a small portion of the curriculum-based program that focuses on four points; mentorship, physical activity, nutrition and family engagement. Children participate in 90-minute sessions at least three days a week to ensure they receive the recommended 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity. Mentors stress the importance of doing well in school and avoiding negative influences such as drugs, alcohol, and violence. Coaches also teach the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices and maintaining healthy eating habits. Soccer for Success strives to turn parents and family members into advocates who reinforce the program’s teachings by applying them in their homes.
Coach Amanda Mitchell and the team at Northeast Middle School presented Councilwoman Justus with team jersey and an autographed soccer ball. Justus said this grant helps up to 800 children in the community, as well as provides roughly $145,000 in economic impact after the program hires between 75-80 coaches.
“This grant helps provide children in the community a safe place to play soccer,” Mitchell said.