Aetna Foundation Awards $140,000 Grant to Expand Soccer Wellness Program to
Kids in Detroit, Houston and Washington, D.C.
-- U.S. Soccer Foundation Project Will Reach 2500 Children from Low-Income
HARTFORD, Conn. -- February 12, 2013
As part of its work to promote health and wellness, the Aetna Foundation has
awarded a $140,000 grant to the U.S. Soccer Foundation. The funds will expand
Soccer for Success, a free, after-school fitness and nutrition program, to
kids from low-income communities in Detroit, Houston and Washington, D.C.
About 2500 kids are expected to enroll in the program.
Soccer for Success uses the sport of soccer to help kids from low-income
neighborhoods be physically active in a safe environment and mentored by
caring adults. The program teaches kids how to eat a healthy diet and the
importance of drinking plenty of water, getting a good night’s sleep, managing
stress and other healthy habits.
“We need to step up our efforts to make healthy lifestyles and wellness our
top priorities if we are to reverse today’s rising rates of diabetes, heart
disease and other chronic conditions,” said Gillian Barclay, vice president of
the Aetna Foundation and director of national grant making. “When kids learn
good health habits at an early age, they are more likely to enjoy better
health throughout their lifetime. Soccer for Success’s track record shows the
program can make a real difference.”
Unlike sports leagues that focus on athletic competition, Soccer for Success
is designed to improve kids’ health through fun exercise and healthy eating.
The program runs after school three or more times a week for 24 weeks. Each
90-minute session includes at least one hour of physical activity to build
stamina and fitness.
To promote healthier diets, the program teaches kids about the benefits of
eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Even soccer drills incorporate
lessons about nutrition. For example, during the traditional skill-building
drill known as “green light, red light”, coaches may shout a healthy food like
“kale” to signal “go” and an unhealthy food like “chips” to signal “stop.”
Ed Foster-Simeon, CEO and president of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, says that
the program’s mission goes beyond promoting kids’ physical health. It also
helps build self-esteem and strong social skills.
“We want to build healthy, vibrant communities using the sport of soccer,”
said Foster-Simeon. “Our coaches serve as mentors and help kids make positive
choices, both on and off the field. We encourage families to get involved so
that their kids live a healthy lifestyle after they leave our program. Through
our partnerships with schools and community groups, we are working to improve
kids’ well-being in a dynamic way.”
Soccer for Success is managed locally by a community group in each city.
Detroit PAL operates the program in Detroit, the Houston Parks and Recreation
Department in Houston, and DC SCORES in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Soccer Foundation launched Soccer for Success in 2009 in Houston and
currently offers the program in 20 cities and will reach about 16,000 kids by
the summer of 2013. In 2011, the federal government’s Social Innovation Fund
awarded $2 million to support the expansion of Soccer for Success.
About the Aetna Foundation
The Aetna Foundation, Inc. is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm
of Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET).Since 1980, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have
contributed $412 million in grants and sponsorships, including $18 million in
2011.Asa national health foundation, wepromote wellness, health, and access
to high-quality health care for everyone.This work isenhanced bythe time
and commitment of Aetna employees, who have volunteeredmore than 2.6 million
hourssince 2003. Aetna’s currentgivingis focused on addressing the rising
rate of adult and childhoodobesity in the U.S.; promoting racial and ethnic
equity inhealth and health care; and advancing integrated health care. For
more information, visit www.AetnaFoundation.org.
About the U.S. Soccer Foundation
The U.S. Soccer Foundation is a recognized leader in sports-based youth
development programs for children in underserved, urban communities. Since its
founding in 1994, the organization has provided more than $59 million in
funding to create and sustain innovative programs across all 50 states and the
District of Columbia. Proven to deliver positive health and social outcomes,
the Foundation’s affordable initiatives offer safe environments in which both
boys and girls thrive. Headquartered in Washington, D.C. the U.S. Soccer
Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. Visit www.ussoccerfoundation.org to
Marnie Goodman, 860-273-2314
U.S. Soccer Foundation
Krista Washington, 202-872-6662
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