Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

October 2018

Foundation Celebrates Sports Innovations

By Dave Ramont

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has worked for more than 45 years to improve health and healthcare in America, believing that everyone deserves a fair opportunity for health and well-being. And recently the foundation announced 14 finalists for the 2018 Sports Award, with the winners to be announced at an awards ceremony on Nov. 15 in Princeton, N.J.

The Sports Award recognizes organizations, individuals and professional teams that incorporate innovative and collaborative approaches to make their communities healthier places through sport. Some of these efforts include creating more opportunities for kids living in poverty, promoting exercise and healthy eating habits, creating safe play environments, and working to stop abuse, bullying and violence.

The award categories include:

  • A professional sports team community relations department or foundation
  • An individual athlete or professional coaches foundation
  • An organization that is an influential leader and model for others

Past winners include the Doug Flutie Foundation for Autism, San Francisco Giants Community Fund, PeacePlayers International and the Tony Hawk Foundation.

This year's group of finalists include Soccer without Borders, which uses soccer as a vehicle for positive change by running youth development programs in underserved communities, often serving immigrant and refugee populations.

Row New York uses the discipline of rowing along with academic support to transform the lives of New Yorkers. Their programs not only empowers youth-including those with disabilities-to become healthy, competitive athletes, but to also instill in them a love of learning and a capacity to realize their full potential.

In South Seattle, the All Girl Everything Ultimate Program (AGE UP) uses Ultimate Frisbee to promote community-building and youth leadership programs, particularly among young women of color.

The Border Youth Tennis Exchange offers professional-quality tennis classes and after-school academic mentorship to kids on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border.

Building lives and uniting communities is the mission of Snider Hockey, which combines the allure of hockey with the goal of maximizing scholastic achievement with their After-School Excellence Program.

In Washington, D.C., the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy fosters academic achievement, positive character development and improved health among youth from underserved communities using the sports of baseball and softball as vehicles.

Tony Sanneh, who played on the U.S. Men's National Team in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, established The Sanneh Foundation (TSF) which serves Minnesota's diverse youth population. Their mission is to empower youth by promoting and supporting academic success, improve lives by strengthening physical health and social and emotional development, and unite communities by advancing diversity, equity and community well-being.

Other RWJF Sports Award finalists include Kids Play International, Figure Skating in Harlem, the LA84 Foundation, the Lakeshore Foundation, Soccer in the Streets, the United States Association of Blind Athletes and New York City's City in the Community.

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