September 19, 2013
The number of young people affected by gun crime in parts of America makes for devastating reading.
And whilst politicians and activists across the country debate the rights of those to possess firearms, a growing tally of young lives are paying the ultimate price for the lack of adequate action.
In the American city of Oakland, homicide is the leading cause of death among young people. From 2009 to 2013, 31 Oakland public school students aged 11-19 were killed across the city – the majority by gunfire.
If such figures are not harrowing enough, the context that the number of African American men killed on the streets of Oakland nearly matches the number of students graduating from high school surely will be.
We believe such problems can be helped in part through the power of sport and are addressing the issue of youth violence in Oakland through the support of a national coaching and mentoring program called Coach Across America (CAA), created by the non-profit organization Up2Us.
And this week, at an event in Oakland with Olympic legend Michael Johnson, Laureus USA and Mercedes Benz USA announced their support of the training and placement of CAA coaches in afterschool sports programs throughout the Bay Area.
Both organizations believe quality sports-based youth development coaches and sports can play a crucial role in keeping Oakland youth safe by getting them involved in constructive physical activities afterschool.
At the event, Laureus Academy Member Michael Johnson, said: “This is what the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation is all about. Encouraging and funding sports-based youth development programs so we can reach more kids and allow them to learn the valuable lessons of sport. Soccer Without Borders is doing great work and it is an honor for us to be associated with them and have Laureus USA, in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz USA, support the training and placement of quality coaches so that more kids can be mentored.”
The launch provides a much-needed boost for Bay Area children who can fall vulnerable to issues such as youth violence and childhood obesity (September is also Childhood Obesity Awareness Month). Additionally, the funding will provide employment opportunities, relevant experience and education awards in the sport for development sector for young adults in this tough economy. The projects where they will be placed include: America SCORES Bay Area, East Oakland Boxing Association, LIFT-Levantate, Oakland Strokes and Soccer Without Borders.