MIAMI, Oct. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Community-based coaches can help tackle the many issues affecting today's youth. 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, announce their support of Coach Across America in the Greater Miami Area on Friday, October 12, 3:00 PM EST at Gwen Cherry Park. Laureus World Sports Academy Member Gary Player – the most successful international golfer of all time – will address the community kids and coaches at the kick-off event.
The initiative in Miami – a new market for Coach Across America (CAA) made possible by the collaboration and generous support of Laureus USA and MBUSA – will train and place 24 Coach Across America coaches in 12 after-school sports programs, benefitting 3,000 underserved youth in 15 communities within the greater Miami area. These include: Hialeah, Liberty City, Little Havana, North Miami, Overtown, South Dade and South Miami Heights. Initially, coaches will be placed in programs at the following projects: Quality United Education, Dade Lacrosse, Touching Miami with Love, Hope for Miami and Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation.
"We believe in the transformational power of sport as a tool for social good. Today's coaches go beyond the traditional sense of the term 'coach,'" said Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Dr. Edwin Moses. "It is important for an area such as Miami to have quality coaches serving these kids. They are mentors, community organizers and mediators. Investing in proper training and offering support for these coaches is vital to sports-based youth development, especially as youth violence and obesity escalate and school-based programs continue to be decimated by budget cuts. Initiatives like this are essential in America to fill the gap."
The kick-off is part of a nationwide program that, with a $1.3 million national commitment from MBUSA to Laureus USA, focuses on training and placing 250 coaches through Coach Across America in sports-based youth development projects in underserved neighborhoods in five U.S. cities: Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami and New Orleans.
"Mercedes-Benz USA and our dealer partners have a long tradition of supporting and giving back to our communities. When you combine that with MBUSA's extensive involvement in high-profile sports events, this is an undertaking that really makes sense for us and provides a real benefit to youth across the country," said Steve Cannon, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA.
Youth violence and childhood obesity are serious issues in the region. As recently as September 8, three people were shot during a youth football game at the recently-reopened Gibson Park in Overtown. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 12 percent of Miami-Dade County's high school students attend daily physical-education classes at school (which is much lower than the state rate of 44 percent).
Community-based coaches can play a crucial role in developing character and keeping students engaged in constructive physical activities vs. 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 better grades, better behavior, healthier lives and longer life due to fitness activity. Laureus USA has selected Coach Across America as its delivery partner to supply more of these quality coaches in underserved areas.
At a time when state-wide after-school sports programs are suffering due to limited budgets, public-private partnerships like Laureus USA and MBUSA remain key to sustaining vital after-school opportunities. With the help of these CAA coaches, the Greater Miami Area will benefit from more opportunities for youth to engage in physical activities and keeps underserved children away from troubles such as youth violence, drugs and childhood obesity.
On Friday at 3:00 PM EDT, the activities will kick off with dealer partners and employees from MBUSA along with Laureus Academy Member Gary Player, as well as guests and staff, visiting the NFL Yet Center at Gwen Cherry Park for an afternoon full of sports activities.
"The positive influence coaches can have on today's underserved youth is undeniable," said James Kallusky, director of Coach Across America. "The Greater Miami Area is a brand new market for Coach Across America made possible by the generous support from both Mercedes-Benz USA and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA."
Many of the Miami coaches recruited by Coach Across America will be college graduates from the local community such as Milton Lyles, a native of Miami Gardens who recently graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Milton, a member of North Carolina's men's lacrosse team, was the team's top long stick midfielder as a junior. He is now responsible for community outreach with the Dade Lacrosse partner programs.
"I see lacrosse as a wonderful tool to shape the lives of young kids from underserved communities," he said. "I understand sports is a critical component in providing various life opportunities. The culture we create for our players will have a great impact as they grow to become our community's future leaders."
About Laureus USA
Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA (www.laureususa.com) 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 and Maybach products in the United States. MBUSA offers drivers the most diverse line-up in the luxury segment with 14 model lines ranging from the sporty C-Class to the flagship S-Class sedans and the SLS AMG supercar.
MBUSA is also responsible for the distribution, marketing and customer service of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Vans and smart in the US. More information on MBUSA and its products can be found at www.mbusa.com, www.mbsprinterusa.com and www.smartusa.com.
About Coach Across America
Coach Across America was launched by Up2Us (www.Up2Us.org), a national coalition of close to 600 Sports-Based Youth Development organizations, to provide its member organizations with the expert support needed to train and host highly effective coaches in sports and youth development. CAA currently reaches 50,000 children nationwide and is the first national program that challenges young adults to give back to their communities through a year of service coaching at-risk youth.
1. K-12 Education – School-Based Physical Education and Sports Programs GAO-12-350, Feb 29, 2012 http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-350
SOURCE Mercedes-Benz USA