NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Nationwide budget cuts in after-school sports programs have left American youth at least three times more at-risk to engage in unlawful activities. Investing in community-based coaches, who act as mentors, is important in ensuring underserved youth access to constructive activities. 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, will announce their support of Up2Us' Coach Across America (CAA) program in New Orleans on Monday, November 5, 3:00 PM EST at Samuel J. Green School.
Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Dr. Edwin Moses, a two-time Olympic Champion, and Academy Members Marcus Allen, a Pro Football Hall of Fame running back, Robby Naish, widely acknowledged as the greatest windsurfer of all time, and Monica Seles, former No. 1 professional tennis player and member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, will address the community kids and coaches at the kick-off event and take part in a series of sports activities.
A recent GAO report confirmed that despite the important role of coaches, quality coaches are in short supply.1 This initiative in New Orleans – a new market for Coach Across America – will train and place 26 CAA coaches in 11 local after-school sports programs, benefitting 3,250 underserved youth in local communities. These include: Gentilly, Marrero, Gretna, Algiers, New Orleans East and Broadmoor.The program is aimed at providing safe and healthy choices to underserved youth who are forced to choose from either joining a gang, doing drugs or staying at home without doing any recommended level of exercise.
As recently as September 19, a 15-year-old was killed as he was part of a triple shooting in the Central City neighborhood. An 18-year-old was also among the victims in the shooting. There is a burgeoning afterschool gap in New Orleans.
"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 New Orleans – especially in a post-Katrina New Orleans – to have quality coaches serving these kids. With all the violence happening among youth in this area, it is clear a gap exists between youth and access to after-school sports programs. Public-private partnerships like Laureus USA and MBUSA can help bridge that gap and encourage more youth to be physically active and not turn to violence. These coaches are mentors, community organizers and mediators. Investing in proper training and offering support for these coaches is vital to sports-based youth development."
Supported community programs in New Orleans are: Metropolitan Youth Foundation, New Orleans Rugby Foundation, NFL Youth Education Town, Boys and Girls Club, Elevate, A's and Aces, ReNew-Reinventing Education, Youth Run NOLA, New Orleans Outreach, FirstLine Schools, YLC Kicks, Westbank Wrestling and NORDC.
The New Orleans 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 CAA coaches in sports-based youth development projects in underserved neighborhoods in five U.S. cities: Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami and New Orleans. Laureus USA has selected the groundbreaking Coach Across America program as its partner to ensure kids and communities in underserved areas have access to the most highly trained coaches in the country. New Orleans is the final stop for the collaboration in 2012.
Studies show that school days (from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.) are considered peak hours for teens to commit crimes. The program is aimed at providing safe and healthy choices to underserved youth who are forced to choose from either joining a gang, doing drugs or staying at home without doing any recommended level of exercise.
"Mercedes-Benz USA and our dealer partners have a long tradition of supporting and giving back to our communities. New Orleans is a special place and our commitment to the city and people of Louisiana continues to grow. When you combine MBUSA's extensive involvement in high-profile sports events including our sponsorship of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, this is an initiative where we can add value and make a big difference in the lives of American's youth," said Steve Cannon, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA.
"The positive influence coaches can have on today's underserved youth is undeniable," said James Kallusky, director of Coach Across America. "New Orleans 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."
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