The statistics can be alarming. Children are spending more time watching television, playing video games and on the internet than participating in physical activities. Some children are also developing poor eating habits and as a result childhood obesity is at an all time high. It is because of those facts that Detroit PAL has teamed up with several schools across Detroit to form The US Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success program thanks to our supporter,the W.K Kellogg Foundation!
“It’s an awesome program”, says site administrator Karla Ramos. Since the program arrived at Roberto Clemente nearly five years ago, Ramos says she has seen tremendous results in the students involved. Ramos also stated, “It’s more than just providing soccer to underprivileged kids. We teach them to eat better, exercise and live a healthier life.” In this 12 week program, for third and forth graders, the children watch videos about healthy eating, get tested on the information they receive and overall learn to live an improved life. Due to the high level of student participation, they have put higher qualifications and criteria to enter and remain in the program. To enter the program you must get selected by a teacher, have good grades, good attendance and demonstrate good behavior.
Soccer coach Mohammed Bazzi, who has played collegiate and professional soccer also observes the positive impacts from this program in the student’s lives. “They grow so much. And it’s not just with soccer. They learn better social skills and get better grades too” Bazzi went on to explain. Karla Ramos echoed that by saying, “because they have to have good attendance and good grades, it makes their G.P.A. go up. So this program is helping these kids on so many different levels!” In addition to enhancing the quality of life for the youth involved in this program, the families of the kids benefit too. “I have parents tell me all the time how they are buying more fruits now or how their children tell them not to buy pop. The kids really take what we teach them here home to their family” said Ramos.
To some, soccer may seem like just another sport. But this Detroit PAL program funded by the W.K Kellogg Foundation actually does what it’s title says. It succeeds in teaching children to eat better, it succeeds in getting children to exercise and it succeeds in offering them a healthier life.