Voltage - Sparky foundation
Organization’s Mission and Background
Need for the Project
Obesity and smoking are two principal threats to the health and well being of American youth. In the past 25 years, the percentage of overweight children ages 6 to 11 has nearly doubled from 7 percent to 13 percent. Type II (adult onset) diabetes, which used to affect mostly adults, is now appearing at an increasing rate in children. United States spending on hospital costs related to childhood obesity has tripled in the past two decades. Thirty-one percent of 6th-8th graders have reported trying to smoke. Four percent of American youth can be considered regular smokers, and nine percent have smoked at least once in the past 30 days.
Poor exercise regimens, dietary habits, and self-images have contributed greatly to rise of obesity and tobacco use among America’s youth. These problems particularly plague impoverished children. One method to combat obesity and tobacco use is youth sports programs. According to the most recent United Way needs assessment, one of the most used and needed services in Chittenden County is youth recreational activities. The Voltage Professional Soccer Academy will provide a needed program to youth who do not have the financial means to access other summer programming. Research indicates that 52,000 people participated in soccer activities in Vermont last year. The United Way estimates that 75 percent of those individuals were children. Most soccer camps are cost-prohibitive for at-risk kids. Over the past 5 years, the Vermont Voltage soccer camps have received numerous calls from families who require financial assistance to attend the camps.
Fans are routinely treated to sponsoring business nights where fans receive sponsors' products or promotional items upon entry. Players throw caps and
t-shirts into the stands before each game. Volunteer’s staff concession and Voltage merchandise booths. A D.J. fires up the crowd by pumping music into the stands. Fans enjoy halftime activities, such as the team's dance troupe "Sparkettes" and a sponsor-promoted "Score a Goal, Win a Car." Players who score goals toss soccer balls into the bleachers. Sparky, the team's canine mascot, entertains both children and adults. Players sign autographs and talk with fans of all ages after each contest. Moreover, fan support for the Voltage has soared. Average attendance has climbed from 450 fans per game in 2000 to nearly 1,750 fans per game in 2006, a 389 percent increase in fans per game. A record crowd of 2,750 turned out to watch the Voltage host the PDL's Eastern Conference championship. In fact, Voltage games have developed into one of Vermont 's top summer attractions, as season attendance for 2006 almost reached 30,000. This was the reason why the Voltage was chosen to be 2005 Franklin County Business of the Year.
The goals of the project are to educate children about physical exercise, teach them life-long physical and social development skills, and build their self-esteem.
The project will offer one-week camps to at-risk youth, ages 5-18, during the summer. The project will provide scholarships to low-income children. It is expected that the project will permit approximately X children in Franklin, Chittenden and all other County’s to participate in the soccer camps.
The Voltage Soccer Academy offers an opportunity to learn and enjoy many aspects of the game of soccer in a competitive environment from professional players. Fundamentals and sophisticated techniques of soccer are taught on a personalized, individual level along with various forms of group instruction. Emphasis is placed on the development, improvement, and refinement of basic playing skills. Attention is given to the instruction of good ball control habits and movement techniques through challenging drills and simulated match situations. Conditioning methods and training ethics are also stressed to prevent injuries and improve coordination and flexibility. Equally important, Voltage coaches and players will conduct 30-minute question and answer sessions daily on the following topics: the value of proper nutrition, the importance of being tobacco-free, the worth of a positive self-image, the merit of a good education, and the need for teamwork and sportsmanship.
People Served and Geographic Area Affected
The United Way and the Voltage Professional Soccer Academy have partnered to recruit at-risk youth in Franklin, Chittenden and all other County’s through Vermont United Way member agencies. The most recent United States census indicates that 19.7% of the children in Burlington, 27% of the youth in Winooski and 19.5% in St. Albans are living below the poverty level. The project will specifically target the needs of this youth population.
Methods for Measuring Success
The United Way and the Voltage will measure success by documenting the number of children served, the soccer skills learned, the increased interest in physical exercise and nutrition, the exposure to healthy adult role models, and the time devoted to healthy life-styles and tobacco-free education.
Vermont Companies will contribute funds to be used as scholarships for kids at risk and low-income families. Every $100 will provide one scholarship.
Vermont Voltage professional players will be coaching in the camps. All Voltage players are excellent coaches and role models and they relate well with the kids. For the past 5 years the Voltage organization has been organizing camps throughout Vermont. The number of camp participants increased from 225 in 1998 to 1150 in 2003, which illustrates the quality of the camps and the coaching staff.
June 20 through August 20
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