giving back

Community Programs: Soccer Shots Builds Character

giving backbettering communities

Exercise plays a vital role in achieving and maintaining optimal physical health. Next to diet, it is one of the most important habits to teach our children.

That is why I was such a fan of having my daughter start in a soccer program, but felt she was too young to enter AYSO  Soccer, an organized soccer league. A friend introduced me to a wonderful program called Soccer Shots that combines skill building lessons with character building lessons each week. For example, they combine skill lessons like “Passing” or “Dribbling” with a character word of the day with “Sharing” or “Respect." I was surprised at how much learning goes on in a short period of time as the children are constantly taught new skills in a fun and encouraging environment.

Soccer Shots, OC was founded by JoBen Barkey, a young man who dreamed of starting a quality program that could positively influence the lives of children. His background is in psychology and he played soccer in college. He has firsthand experience of how much adults can have a positive impact on children and JoBen wanted to create a program that would target a large group of kids who could benefit from a non-competitive skill-training program.

The coaches that they hire are very highly trained individuals with experience in working with groups of kids ranging from three years old on up to Third grade. The program is run year-round so you don’t have to wait for the beginning of the season and can even start up your own “team” if you have more than six kids participating — which is what we did.

Most of my daughter’s preschool class decided to participate and it is a good way for them to interact outside of school! Soccer Shots works with many elementary schools to set up after-school Soccer Shots programs and has grown to over 700 children in two short years.

What I found so compelling about this program is JoBen’s dedication to giving back to impoverished children in developing countries. In many low-income communities, they do not even have a ball for the children to play with during school.

In 2010, they sent one of their coaches to South Africa to set up a program, Academies, to run soccer camps as well as train coaches with their program techniques. They are launching their first sponsored academy in Pucallpa, Peru, in a jungle town that had only a few soccer balls for over 40 children.

Now with the sponsorship of Soccer Shots, they have increased the number of participants to over 150 children including the first girl’s program ever developed in this province! Their character-based curriculum plan will be taught to the locals in Pucallpa over a seven-day coaching seminar this April.

I just love to hear about how one person’s dream can become a reality with hard work and support! What started as a seed of an idea has grown into a character and skill-building program that helps children here in the U.S., as well as in impoverished developing countries.

You can read more about their great program here: www.soccershots.org or www.soccershotsblog.com.

 What programs do you love to support in your local community?

Melissa Northway, M.S. Human Nutrition, is a mom, writer and her storybook app Penelope the Purple Pirate has been chosen as a Top 10 Must-Have eBook by lilsugar of Popsugar.com and a Top 10 Educational iPad App by Digital Storytime. She does consulting work for companies interested in marketing their apps or eBooks. She can be reached at: mcube@sbcglobal.net and http://www.melissanorthway.com or @melissanorthway. See my review of The Hunger Games coming next month.

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