MARCH 4, 2014
Though rates of violent crime have been dropping nationwide, Chicago still ranks the highest in the nation according to a 2013 FBI report. Unfortunately, far too many of Chicago’s youth are affected by the violence.
Laureus USA is strategically supporting organisations aiming to reduce violence. One of the organizations we sponsor nationally is Up2Us’ Coach Across America program, the first national program that challenges young adults to give back to their communities through a year of service as coach-mentors to at-risk youth. In 2013, approximately 536 CAA coaches served 67,000 kids. After leaving the program, 86 percent of youth surveyed reported a high competence on a set of skills that contribute to healthy decision-making. Among programs that collect academic data, 96 percent of CAA coaches reported that the youth in their programs improved their grades. Together with Up2Us, we’re aiming to attain this goal locally.
In order to prepare these coaches to lead, we are supporting Up2Us’ Annual National Coach Training Institute in Chicago through funding the training and providing a bit of inspiration. The Institute is a cutting edge training experience that links sports to positive physical and mental health outcomes. The training deepens coaches’ understanding of trauma sensitive coaching techniques and how to use any sport to attain the full potential of physical activity from the youth they serve.
As the coaches prepared to return to their individual sport for development programs, Laureus Academy Member and football legend Marcus Allen spoke with the coaches and reminded them of their responsibility to being great leaders and role models for the at-risk youth facing challenges such as obesity, violence and academic failure.
“Coaches are our last line of defense. You have a great responsibility to save them from the streets,” said Allen to the coaches.
Allen knows the importance of great leadership. Not only did he lead the NFL in passing yards, but throughout his career Marcus had an affinity for excellence in coaching.
“Great coaches, leaders, and mentors helped me to get to where I am today. It is important for an area such as Chicago to have quality coaches serving these kids. Investing in proper training and offering support for these coaches is vital to sports-based youth development. By providing them with well-prepared leaders, we’re trying to provide these kids with better infrastructure on their paths toward success in their own lives,” said Allen.
Since 2012, Laureus USA has been supporting Up2Us, backed by support from Mercedes-Benz USA, that served as an important catalyst in this widespread investment in the nation’s underserved youth. These efforts contributed to the training and placement of coaches in sports-based youth development projects in 15 cities serving 90,000 youth.