Chicago, April 10, 2012
Laureus sporting greats Marcus Allen (above left) and Edwin Moses (above right) have launched an innovative initiative to train 250 coaches to work in sports-based youth development projects in disadvantaged areas of United States cities.
The plan will be delivered by Coach Across America, Laureus’ partner in the project, and will be rolled out in five US cities – Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami and New Orleans.
It is hoped the coaches will provide mentorship to as many as 40,000 youth across 125 communities.
The initiative has been established with the invaluable support of Mercedes-Benz USA, which is committing US$1.3 million (€990,000) to the Laureus National Foundation in the United States for the delivery of the project.
Laureus Chairman Edwin Moses. a double Olympic gold medalist, and his fellow Academy Member Marcus Allen, Hall of Fame running back for the Los Angeles Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, made the announcement at Beyond the Ball, an organisation that teaches young people in Chicago about developing their personal and social responsibility through sport.
Moses said: “We believe in the transformational power of sport as a tool for social good. Today’s coaches go beyond the traditional sense of the term ‘coach’. They are mentors, community organisers and mediators. Investing in proper training and offering support for these coaches is vital to sports-based youth development, especially as youth violence and obesity escalate and school-based programmes continue to be decimated by budget cuts. Initiatives like this are essential in America to fill the gap.”
In the last two years it is estimated US$3.5 billion has been cut from school sports budgets, drastically reducing access to sport for young people. At the same time the country is suffering from an obesity crisis, with an estimated 33 per cent of young Americans overweight or obese.
And there has also been a dangerous spike in youth violence. For example last month in Chicago, in what is believed to be gang-related incidents, ten people were fatally shot, including a six-year-old girl, and 40 others were wounded.
Solutions to overcome these issues affecting young people are desperately needed and sport is seen as an effective way to combat these trends.
The Coach Across America initiative will initially focus on training and placing 40 coaches in nine sports-based youth development projects in Chicago. It will extend to the four remaining cities later in the year.
The initiative will also provide employment opportunities and experience in the sport for development sector for young adults in these difficult economic times. Many of the coaches recruited will be college graduates from the local community.
Mercedes-Benz USA President and CEO Steve Cannon said: “Mercedes-Benz USA has a long and deep history of fostering civic engagement through its commitment to giving back to our communities. This initiative is at the very core of our company’s philanthropic philosophy, as it touches on key social issues such as education, health and community.”