Laureus USA-Mercedes-Benz USA Initiative Keeps Los Angeles Kids Safe, Engaged and Healthy

Laureus USA-Mercedes-Benz USA Initiative Keeps Los Angeles Kids Safe, Engaged
                                 and Healthy

Laureus World Sports Academy Members Edwin Moses and Michael Johnson Visit
Local Youth Sports Program to Empower Children

PR Newswire

LOS ANGELES, June 4, 2013

LOS ANGELES, June 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Between 3-6 pm on school days, many
children are vulnerable to unsafe and unhealthy activities. However, in 2012,
thanks to the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA (Laureus USA), a
charitable organization that supports projects across the U.S. to improve the
lives of youth through the power of sports, in collaboration with
Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), the company and its dealers, Greater Los
Angeles-Area children say they feel safer, more engaged and especially better
equipped to live a healthier lifestyle. Fully invested in Los Angeles' youth,
Laureus USA and MBUSA return to Los Angeles this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. PST to
check in on the progress of the children impacted.

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This impact is made possible with Laureus USA's support of Coach Across
America (CAA), a unique national coaching and mentoring program of Up2Us. The
initiative deployed 40 coaches in 10 sports-based youth development projects
across L.A. that reached nearly 6,500 area youth. Laureus World Sports Academy
members Dr. Edwin Moses, a two-time Olympic champion and chairman of Laureus
USA, and Michael Johnson, a four-time Olympic champion and Laureus World
Sports Academy Member, MBUSA representatives, as well as guests and staff will
visit with CAA coaches and kids at Los Angeles' A World Fit for Kids! (WFIT)
at Frank Del Olmo Elementary School for a project visit.

Laureus USA and MBUSA believe that coaches and sports play a crucial role in
developing character in today's youth and keep students engaged in
constructive physical activities instead of turning to the streets. A recent
GAO report confirmed that despite the important role of coaches, quality
coaches are in short supply.1 Proper coaching increases the chance of improved
grades, better behavior, healthier lives and longer life due to fitness

"Laureus USA is not about parachuting in a solution to the issues facing
children in Los Angeles. We are fully invested in L.A. We want to support
on-the-ground leaders within the community, often young leaders, and assist
them to deliver programs and education to other young people in that
community," says Dr. Moses. "That's what this national initiative is all

Last year's launch was part of a nationwide program, backed by $1.3 million in
support from MBUSA to Laureus USA, that served as an important catalyst in
this widespread initiative for the nation's underserved youth. These efforts
contributed to the training and placement of 250 CAA coaches in sports-based
youth development projects in underserved neighborhoods in five U.S. cities:
Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami and New Orleans. An annual report by CAA
confirmed that 56 percent of youth participating in a program run by a CAA
coach reported an increase in physical activity levels. The initiative gave
youth more opportunities to participate in afterschool sports programs, with
the help of coaches to keep underserved children away from troubles such as
youth violence, drugs and childhood obesity.

"We are a brand known for leadership which means we try to lead by example in
every aspect of our business," said Steve Cannon, president and CEO of
Mercedes-Benz USA. "Here we're able to show what the private sector can
accomplish to offset some of the deficit in afterschool funding. We've been
able to provide thousands of kids with a safer, healthier environment after
the school bell rings, which for us is the greatest reward."

Children enrolled in the program say they consistently feel safer, healthier
and have more self-confidence.

"If I tried playing outside by my house or a park nearby, someone would take
me and my younger sister away. I wouldn't know what to do. I feel safe at this
program and with my coach," said Anthony Giron, a fifth grader whose dad is a
reformed gang member.

"Because the program taught me how to grow vegetables, I started my own garden
of carrots and corn at home," said fourth grader Majore Paraca. "If it wasn't
for this program, I would be stuck at home watching TV and eating junk food."

Over the past year, this initiative provided employment opportunities,
relevant experience and scholarships in the sport for development sector for
young adults in this tough economy. Many of the coaches are college graduates
from the local community. The projects where CAA coaches were placed included:
A World Fit for Kids!, HOLA, After-School All-Stars L.A., America SCORES L.A.,
Brotherhood Crusade, Kids in Sports, PLAY SOCCER Nonprofit International, Play
Rugby USA and Street Soccer.

"I've seen tremendous achievement over the past year with the children and
youth that this initiative supports," say Dr. James Kallusky, director of
Coach Across America. "Many kids are more active and are eating better, others
are taking education more seriously, and even more are making a conscious
effort to stay out of trouble. Most importantly, some of these kids are
realizing a positive future that may have not been present in their lives
before this initiative began. Giving a kid a caring coach is a powerful

Today's project visit emphasizes the importance of quality afterschool
mentors. Children from WFIT and CAA coaches will participate in a series of
activities, as well as a meet-and-greet between children and Laureus Academy
members. WFIT provides afterschool programming for elementary, middle and high
school students throughout the Los Angeles area in 10 schools, including Frank
Del Olmo Elementary. Today's project visit proves that the stories and choices
of L.A. youth are not just important – they're invaluable.

About Laureus USA
Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA ( is a registered
501(c)(3) public charity in the United States. It is part of the Laureus
Sport For Good Foundation global network, which includes the global Laureus
Sport for Good Foundation, the Laureus World Sports Academy, and the Laureus
World Sports Awards. Collectively, the Laureus global network harnesses the
power of sport to promote social change and celebrate sporting excellence.
Laureus champions the universal power of sport to bring people together as a
force for good, pursuit of excellence, overcoming challenges, celebrating
achievement, and winning against the odds.

About Mercedes-Benz USA
Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), headquartered in Montvale, New Jersey, is
responsible for the distribution, marketing and customer service for all
Mercedes-Benz products in the United States. For the nearly 50 years MBUSA
has operated in this country, the company has been an integral part of the
communities in which it does business and the neighborhoods where its
employees live and work. A common thread through its activities over the
decades has been a commitment to nurturing leadership. To that end, MBUSA
places particular emphasis on initiatives designed to empower future
generations, particularly those who are underserved. MBUSA is dedicated to
helping today's youth develop the tools they need to reach their full
potential and become the leaders and success stories of tomorrow.

About Up2Us
Up2Us is leading a national movement to advance sports as a a solution to the
critical challenges facing today's youth, including childhood obesity,
academic failure and youth violence. Up2Us accomplishes its mission by uniting
more than 650 sports programs that provide life skills development to this
nation's most vulnerable youth. In 2010, Up2Us launched Coach Across America
(CAA) to provide its member organizations with well-trained, highly effective
coaches. CAA is the first national program that challenges young adults to
give back to their communities through a year of service as coach-mentors.
This year, CAA is placing more than 400 coach-mentors nationwide, reaching
50,000 children. Up2Us is supported by Mercedes-Benz USA, the Laureus Sport
for Good Foundation USA, Nike Inc., the Corporation for National and Community
Service and the Department of Justice.

SOURCE Mercedes-Benz USA

Contact: Ruchika Jain/Chris Navalta, Graham & Associates, (415) 986-7212,,; Diedra Wylie, Mercedes-Benz
USA, (949) 598-4855,,
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