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Mike Moynihan

By Mike Moynihan

“Kicking” Impact into High Gear

Thu, February 21, 2013

Kicking Impact into High Gear

Almost nothing boosts a child's self-esteem and overall health quite like organized sports and activities. That's why United Way and our local partners – including the Boys and Girls Club of Camden County, the YMCA of Burlington and Camden Counties, Campbell Soup Company and the Horizon Foundation — are working together to launch Soccer for Success, a U.S. Soccer Foundation program that transforms the sport into a powerful vehicle to promote social change and healthy lifestyles in urban communities like Camden City.

Through Soccer for Success, we’re giving 500 Camden City youth the chance to flex their muscles and get their competitive juices flowing, all in an attempt to promote increased physical activity and keep kids off the streets.

According to the U.S. Soccer Foundation, more than 20 million children across America are at risk for obesity-related health issues; even more startling, every four minutes a child is arrested for a drug offense, and every seven minutes a child is arrested for a violent crime.

And the numbers are just as shocking right here in our own community. In Camden City alone, nearly 40 percent of youth are obese and don’t have access to safe places to play. Less than half of Camden’s kids meet the national physical activity guidelines and a third spend two or more hours a day in front of a TV. And with increased gang and drug activity on Camden’s streets, many youth already have criminal records.

But with our partners and Soccer for Success, we’re working to reverse those trends. Ed Foster-Simoen, President and CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, says that sports in general — and soccer in particular — have the power to uplift urban children facing tough living situations by providing them with the chance be a be member of a team, build self confidence and live healthy, active lifestyles.

In addition to making sure that children receive the recommended amount of exercise, Soccer for Success teaches nutrition basics, encourages healthy decision making and good eating habits, and leverages mentors to stress the value of education and the importance of avoiding negative behaviors like drug and alcohol abuse. Through this partnership, we hope to set more Camden City youth on the path to healthy, successful and productive futures.