Laureus Chairman Edwin Moses welcomes U.S. Goverment report on youth sport and urges Congress to re

WASHINGTON D.C., March 20, 2012 – Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, has given a warm welcome to an official US Government report which focuses on the state of school sport in the United States. He also urged the US Congress to reverse budget cuts of recent years which have reduced sports funding for young people.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) compiled the report for the US Congress, which is currently considering proposals aimed at increasing physical activity in young people.
The report reveals:
  • School officials say that budget cuts and inadequate facilities have affected their ability to provide physical education opportunities
  • Some schools have had to cope with poor facilities: e.g gymnasia doubling as cafeteria
  • Transport, facilities and staffing have been affected by budgetary constraints
  • Attracting quality coaches has been affected because of low pay
  • Schools are having to rely on outside funding such as booster clubs, gate receipts and leveraging community facilities
  • Some schools are having to charge student fees for sports activities, which may be a barrier for lower income students
Following the publication, double Olympic gold medallist Dr Moses was part of a panel discussion led by US Congressman Mike McIntyre, at the Longworth House Office Building of the US Capitol in Washington DC, which reviewed the implications of the report.
Moses said: “Youth sports programmes in the US are being badly hit by budget cuts and this report has given us a comprehensive assessment of the situation. Everyone involved in sport knows how valuable sport is as a means to help young people. It can give them focus, it teaches them respect and team-spirit and it can keep them off the streets and out of trouble. Sport can be used as a tool to address the challenges facing young people, such as obesity, underage pregnancy, high school drop-out rates and gang crime. I urge the Congress to examine these findings and reverse the budget cuts of recent years and support public/private partnership initiatives.”
Also on the panel was Paul Caccamo, Executive Director of Up2Us, a coalition of 400 youth sports organisations in the United States, which is a partner of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA. Recent research by Up2Us reveals youth sports budget cuts reached US$1.5 billion for the 2010-2011 school year, in addition to an estimated US$2 billion cut in 2009-2010.
Caccamo said: “This study opens the door to a much needed dialogue on youth sports and sheds light on the challenges facing sports programmes in the US, particularly the need for trained coaches. We are aware of the connections between sports participation and improved educational and health outcomes in children.”
The GAO report revealed some alarming figures over the health of many young people in the US. It said that around 12.5 million children between two and 19 are obese. The costs of childhood obesity in the US are estimated at $14.3 billion annually. And childhood obesity can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol, breathing problems, asthma and diabetes. Half of all medical spending related to adult obesity is financed by the public sector, through Medicaid and Medicare
The report says that sport can help by providing more than health benefits. It states: “A growing body of evidence indicates a relationship between PE and sports and academic attainment and attendance. It can help improve academic achievement, including grades and standardised test scores. Physical activity can affect cognitive skills, attitudes and academic behaviour. A number of studies provide some support for the premise that physical activity, and sports in particular, can positively affect aspects of personal development among young people, such as self-esteem, goal-setting, and leadership. However, evidence indicates that the quality of coaching is a key factor in maximizing positive effects.”
Edwin Moses is Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, a unique association of the greatest living sports legends, who volunteer their time to support the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which is a global leader in research, expertise and best practice in supporting grassroots programmes around the world.
He said: “The approach of our Foundation has been not only to invest in projects helping to combat social issues, but also in the sharing of knowledge in how to use sport to tackle issues facing young people.  We focus on long term sustainability for the partners we support, such as Up2Us, to ensure that we can educate more coaches to assist greater numbers of children.”
The mission of Laureus is to use sport as the means to combat some of the world’s toughest social challenges facing young people today such as juvenile crime, gangs, HIV/AIDS, discrimination, social exclusion, landmines awareness and health problems like obesity.
Since its inception, Laureus has raised more than €40 million to support projects which have helped to improve the lives of over one-and-a-half million young people. Currently Laureus supports 91 community sports-based projects around the world.
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The Patron of Laureus is Nelson Mandela.  At the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000, President Mandela said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair.” This has become the philosophy of Laureus; the driving force behind its work.
Laureus is a universal movement that celebrates the power of sport to bring people together as a force for good.  Laureus is composed of three core elements - the Laureus World Sports Academy, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and the Laureus World Sports Awards - which collectively celebrate sporting excellence and use sport as the means to promote social change
The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy are: Giacomo Agostini, Marcus Allen, Franz Beckenbauer, Boris Becker, Ian Botham, Sergey Bubka, Bobby Charlton, Sebastian Coe, Nadia Comaneci, Yaping Deng, Marcel Desailly, Kapil Dev, Mick Doohan, David Douillet, Emerson Fittipaldi, Sean Fitzpatrick, Dawn Fraser, Cathy Freeman, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Mika Häkkinen, Tony Hawk, Mike Horn, Miguel Indurain, Michael Johnson, Kip Keino, Franz Klammer, Dan Marino, Edwin Moses (Chairman), Nawal El Moutawakel, Robby Naish, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, Alexey Nemov, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Morné du Plessis, Hugo Porta, Steve Redgrave, Vivian Richards, Monica Seles, Mark Spitz, Daley Thompson, Alberto Tomba, Steve Waugh and Katarina Witt.
The Laureus Academy members volunteer their services as global ambassadors for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which was set up to promote the use of sport as a tool for social change. The Foundation addresses social challenges through a worldwide programme of sports related community development initiatives. Since its inception, Laureus has raised over €40 million for projects which have helped to improve the lives of more than one-and-a-half million young people. The Foundation addresses issues in particular involving, but not limited to, young people impacted by social exclusion, gun and gang violence, discrimination, community integration, peace and reconciliation, and education. The Academy is supported in its work by the members of the Laureus Ambassadors programme, a select group of current and retired sportsmen and sportswomen who have achieved sporting greatness, plus non-sporting personalities who have made significant contributions to the sporting community during their careers. 
The Laureus World Sports Awards is the premier global sports awards honouring the greatest sportsmen and women across all sports each year.  The winners are selected by the ultimate sports jury - the 46 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, the living legends of sport honouring the great athletes of today.  The Awards are presented at an annual Awards Ceremony, attended by global figures from sport and entertainment, which is broadcast to 120 countries and territories.  
Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation which supports 91 community sports projects around the world.  The 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards were held in London on February 6.
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