Students show off skills

Students show off skills learned in new Soccer for Success program

BUFFALO, NY, (December 19, 2012) – Students in the new Soccer for Success program showed off skills learned this fall and played a soccer game during open house events held this week at the programs 15 locations in Buffalo.

The U.S. Soccer Foundation, the major charitable arm of soccer in the United States, and the Independent Health Foundation this fall launched the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s soccer-based afterschool program, Soccer for Success, for about 500 Buffalo elementary students. The nationally-recognized program provides K-8 children in underserved urban communities with structured physical activity, nutrition education and mentorship at no cost to their families.

Children in the program exercise for 90 minutes a day, at least three times per week, for 24 weeks in the academic year. The program pairs soccer drills with nutrition education, both of which are taught by consistent, caring adults whose primary focus is to provide children with the opportunity to develop positive physical and social skills.

An additional 500 children will participate in the spring session. The program is made possible through a $300,000 Social Innovation Fund Sub-Grant awarded by the U.S. Soccer Foundation to the Independent Health Foundation, in partnership with the Buffalo Soccer Club and United Way of Buffalo and Erie County.

“The response we’re seeing from the children so far has been fantastic,” said Carrie Meyer, executive director, Independent Health Foundation. “They are excited to learn about soccer and eating well. They’ve really embraced the program. We know this program has a proven track record of positive outcomes in other areas of the country and it is now one more viable tool we can use here to help combat the rise of childhood obesity in Western New York. We can reach more children with the hope they will learn healthy fitness and nutrition habits for life, which will translate into a healthier community.”

In the 2011-2012 program year, Soccer for Success served approximately 8,000 children in eight cities nationwide. With the support of the Social Innovation Fund, the U.S. Soccer Foundation will expand to serve approximately 16,000 children in 20 cities nationwide by the end of the 2012-2013 program year, which includes children in Buffalo, NY. A 2011 analysis of Soccer for Success showed:

  • Eighty-nine percent of participants in the overweight and obese categories decreased their Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Eighty-two percent of participants said they make healthier choices about food or drinks as a result of the program
  • Sixty-eight percent of participants said they like exercising more as a result of the program

“With the help of the Social Innovation Fund, the 2012-2013 season of Soccer for Success will engage more children than ever before in a free afterschool program focused on their well-being,” says Ed Foster-Simeon, president and CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. “The work being done in communities to provide opportunities for our children to lead healthy, active lives is critical to ensuring positive social change. I’m thrilled to start a new journey with our dedicated community partners and coaches nationwide to offer a platform for the changes we need in underserved areas.”

For a complete list of cities and community partners implementing Soccer for Success, please visit www.ussoccerfoundation.org.

About the U.S. Soccer Foundation

The U.S. Soccer Foundation is the Major Charitable Arm of Soccer in the United States. Established in 1994, the U.S. Soccer Foundation has invested more than $57 million in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The U.S. Soccer Foundation supports programs and field building projects that provide underserved youth in urban communities with opportunities that promote education, healthy lifestyles, leadership and positive alternatives to drugs, crime and other at-risk behaviors.

About Independent Health Foundation

Established in 1992, the Independent Health Foundation works to improve the health and well being of Western New York residents through awareness, prevention and education programs focused on community health priorities. For more information on the Foundation’s activities, visit www.independenthealth.com/foundation.

Editor Note: For your understanding, we are a separate entity from USSF/US/U.S. Soccer. When referring to the U.S. Soccer Foundation, please refer to it by its proper name.