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Sport teaches life skills

Christopher Roman | Feb 19, 2020

Teen playing with kids

Soccer is a game where players run after the ball. But what’s often forgotten are the skills, discipline, passion and drive it takes to play the game. In Immokalee, Florida, home to one of America's largest migrant communities, most people work in the fields. Residents come from all backgrounds, including Mexico, Guatemala and Haiti with the desire to live a better life. Despite working long, hard hours in the agricultural fields, many of Immokalee's families fall below the poverty line. Yet, a city known for being one of the poorest cities in the United States has put itself on the map for its local soccer program. The Immokalee Soccer School & Academy was formed in 2010 to support families raising their children by opening their doors through the comradery of soccer.

Teen playing with kids  Staff members at the Immokalee Soccer School know every child has the potential to change the world. Thus, they have empowered youth through a combination of soccer, academic and personal development programs. At the school, soccer is used as an entry point for character building. Each session offers Immokalee's youth a positive and constructive environment that challenges each child to give their best effort and even inspires them to reach their academic goals by doing simple activities such as reading and studying.

Members of the Lake Nona Key Club in Orlando, Florida, recently took a field trip to spend time with youth in the program as a weekend volunteer event. Lake Nona Key Clubbers served lunch, read books and served as role models along with students from Ave Maria University.   

“This field trip was really a lifetime experience to all of us,” says Lake Nona Key Club advisor Ingrid Ramos Luna. “One of the most rewarding experiences we’ve had practicing community service. Just knowing that our simple work will make families happier with the security of a safe roof where they will create thousands of memories, fills us with too many beautiful emotions that we will guard in our hearts forever.”  

Teen playing with kids

Key Clubber and club historian Isabella Mascioli says “getting to experience a part of someone else’s daily life and reality was truly eye-opening, and working with these children will forever hold a special place in my heart.”  

Other members volunteered with the local Habitat for Humanity, helping build homes in the area.  

Every child can achieve their dreams. With a little love, support and guidance, children can change themselves, their families and the world around them. Programs such as the one in Immokalee are in line with Kiwanis’ mission to serve the children of the world — and whether through soccer, reading or studying, service is a ball we must run after. 

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