Four Extraordinary Young Women to Join Foudy and McDonald's at London 2012 Olympic Games This Summer
SAN CLEMENTE, Calif., March 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In conjunction with National Women's History Month—celebrating women's education and women's empowerment—The Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy (JFSLA) today unveiled the four grand prize winners of the Inaugural "Choose to Matter" contest. The JFSLA and the Choose to Matter Contest motivate young female athletes who are passionate leaders and change makers in their communities—and inspire our future role models. This year's contest featured projects developed by girls who attended the 2011 JFSLA Academies from around the country—as well as projects submitted by girls who attended from the poorest areas of Mumbai, India. Each winner received a call from Julie Foudy and will join her at the London 2012 Olympic Games this summer.
Thanks to the generosity of McDonald's and The Century Council, participants from the three Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academies (California, Illinois and New Jersey) and partner organization, Girl Talk, were invited to create and implement community service leadership projects during 2011 and enter the projects on the Choose to Matter Contest website. During February 2012, America voted on their favorite projects to send four young women to experience an opportunity of a lifetime—an all-expense paid trip to the London 2012 Olympic Games to join Julie Foudy and McDonald's as Youth Ambassadors for McDonald's Champions of Play program.
"Choose to Matter is an incredible opportunity to honor and celebrate not only the achievements of the four winners, but to recognize and applaud all of the remarkable young women who created and implemented community service projects," said Julie Foudy, former Captain and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist of the U.S. Women's Soccer Team. "We are proud of what they have all accomplished. These projects prove we can each make a difference and create a positive change within our communities. Through JFSLA and this contest, we hope to inspire more young women to take action, and we look forward to watching these future leaders continue to make a difference."
Girls Making a Difference: Four Grand Prize Winners
- Jackie Schaefer (age 12) from Jacksonville, FL (JFSLA New Jersey)
- Jackie's project, "Kids Helping Kids," started with creating a place to play for foster kids. She raised money and equipment to help refurbish and create a place for the kids to play at their foster home.
- Jackie expanded her project to involve a high school team and coaches who had the kids come watch a game and then visited the kids at the home—allowing the foster kids to learn from the high school kids.
- Amanda Christianson (age 14) from Plainfield, IL (JFSLA Illinois)
- Amanda's project, "Cleats for Kids," originally had a goal of collecting and distributing 300 pairs of shoes to kids in Haiti in need of shoes. She collected used cleats and sneakers from her community and shipped them to the kids in Haiti.
- Amanda exceeded her goal and had distributed more than 500 pairs of shoes to children in Haiti by the time she entered her project into the contest.
- Gulafsha Kamrulhodda Ansari, (age 16) from Mumbai, India (JFSLA California)
- Gulafsha's project, "Giving Girls a Chance to Play," focused on empowering girls through sport by working to change the attitudes of the elders in her community towards allowing girls to play in an organized environment. Her goal was to give the girls in the poorest parts of Mumbai the opportunity to play and excel in sports.
- Gulafsha's participation in Julie Foudy's California academy was made possible through the nonprofit, Magic Bus, the first nonprofit in India to deliver high-impact programs using a sport-based curriculum for community development.
- Moriah Wilson (age 14) from Atlanta, GA (GirlTalk)
- Moriah's project, "Lil' Hearts of Love: Pillows and Pages Edition," centered on providing comfort to patients at children's hospitals by distributing 175 handmade pillows that included a book and messages of encouragement for each child.
- Moriah's contest entry was part of a similar effort she and her sister have been doing for the past three years.
In addition, second and third place prizes winners in each category received $500 and $250 sports apparel shopping sprees. The second and third place winners are:
- New Jersey:
- 2nd place: Mariana Azevedo, "Mother Nature Strikes…Teen Defends!"
- 3rd place: Nicole Romola, "Bear Hugs"
- 2nd place: Madison Martin, "Big Sister to Down Syndrome Kids"
- 3rd place: Amy Scruggs, "Teen Pride Volunteers"
- 2nd place: Maryssa Beare, "Operation Save Second Base: Breast Cancer Awareness"
- 3rd place: Montana Ankner, "Let's Put An End To Cyberbullying"
- Girl Talk:
- 2nd place: Emily Huff, "Choose to Matter 24/7/365"
- 3rd place: Erin Ernst, "Spreading Christmas Hope"
The Choose to Matter Contest website offers profiles on each of the grand prize winners and their projects, as well as all of the projects submitted for the Choose to Matter contest. Later in the year, the website will also feature information on the second annual Choose to Matter contest, and more details about the JFSLA Academy.
Choose to Matter by Spreading the News
JFSLA offers Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other ways to help congratulate these incredible young women and celebrate their projects. Become a fan of the Choose to Matter Contest, follow the girls in London this summer, August 9-12, and get the latest on the Choose to Matter Contest by visiting the JFSLA website.
About McDonald's Champions of Play Program
McDonald's recently renewed its Worldwide Sponsorship of the Olympic Games and pledged its commitment to champion generations of happy, active kids. The company is launching the McDonald's Champions of Play program, which focuses on balanced eating and fun play and will bring kids from around the world together for a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Up to 200 children and their guardians will be selected to see the Games first-hand, and have the exclusive privilege of playing with athletes at the Olympic venues. Children are recruited through grassroots programs that will kick-off over the next few months. The program features a Champions of Play website where Olympic athletes will inspire kids to get active and track their physical activities online through a series of engaging challenges. In addition, special Happy Meal packaging and in-restaurant materials, such as Champions of Play Playbooks and Fun Times Magazine, will include information and tips to encourage balanced eating and fun play. McDonald's long-standing support of sports initiatives for kids extends beyond the 17 days of the Games to include programs that promote physical activity at the local, national and global levels through partnerships with thousands of sporting associations. For more information on this program and McDonald's sponsorship of the Games, please visit http://www.aboutmcdonalds.com.
About Julie Foudy and The Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy
Foudy's soccer laurels date back to her time as a Stanford student-athlete, where she was named a four-time All-American and Soccer America Player of the Year in 1991. During her 18-year career as a midfielder for the U.S. national team, the U.S. women won two FIFA World Cup Titles (1991, 1999) and two Olympic gold medals (1996, 2004). Foudy, the former captain, was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in August 2007. Since her retirement in 2004, Foudy has remained close to the sport as the lead television voice for ESPN and ESPN2's coverage of the quadrennial FIFA Women's World Cups. In 2006, Julie Foudy launched the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy for girls ages 12-18. The aim of the JFSLA is to expose students to Julie's great passion: the concept of not just being a leader on the field but a leader in life.
For more information on the Choose to Matter Contest, visit http://contest.juliefoudyleadership.com. For more information about the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy, visit http://www.juliefoudyleadership.com. Follow us on Facebook at "Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy" and Twitter, @JulieFoudy.
Editor's Note: Digital images are available; Interviews upon request.
JFSLA: Jennifer Hwang and Dana Young, [email protected], 415-420-3259, 415-378-7998
McDonald's: Melissa Daly, [email protected], 630-623-8653
The Century Council: Leslie Kimball, [email protected], 202-637-0077
Girl Talk: Jennifer Grizzle, [email protected], 770-409-1152, www.desiretoinspire.org
SOURCE The Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy