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L.A.C.E.S. READY TO EXPAND

Last year, the Founder and Executive Director Seren Fryatt shared her vision to expand the impact of L.A.C.E.S. to other countries. “We have been looking at several countries where we can start a new chapter for L.A.C.E.S.” Fryatt explained, “We are exploring ways we can reach more children who are at risk.”

The success of L.A.C.E.S. has been well recognized by the international community.  “We have been in Liberia for eleven years,” Seren Fryatt explained from her office in Takoma Park in Maryland.  Fryatt just returned from a trip to Liberia to review the in-country operations. “We have seen extraordinary results through the approach of mentoring children through sports.” Because of the success, L.A.C.E.S. has experienced, there has been a crucial demand to expand our role to other countries.  

This week, a small group of L.A.C.E.S.’s staff from Liberia embarked on an exploratory trip to the Northwest neighbouring country of Sierra Leone. The short distance of 361 kilometres (224 miles) from Monrovia in Liberia to Freetown, Sierra Leone could allow the organization to strategically grow organically.  

Sierra Leone is often called the “little jewel” in West Africa, because of its natural beauty coupled with mountainous landscapes and rich minerals. Similar to Liberia, the country has had a bloody history of a long eleven-year civil war that began in the year 1991. Over 500,000 people were displaced and over 50,000 were killed, in a country of fewer than 4 million people. As you can imagine, it is the children from this small West African nation that have been witnesses to this turmoil.

With 70% of the population living under the poverty line, children are often the most vulnerable of all.  In addition, there have been many injustices which include female genital mutilation, lack of education, and forced labour, which have all contributed to human rights’ challenges that face children in this country.  

“We have a proven model that is very successful,” explained Fryatt, “Now, we want to expand and reach out to more young people through our sports mentoring program.” As L..A.C.E.S. begins to grow its international scope, the goal to bring hope to many children who live on the streets will continue to expand.  

Did you know:

  • 38% of girls 15 years of age and older are literate
  • 29% of school-age children are out of school
  • 37% of children are engaged in child labour
  • 70% of people live in poverty

Source:  Save the Children Federation

 

Read more about Sierra Leone

https://www.humanium.org/en/sierra-leone/

https://www.nytimes.com/1999/02/14/magazine/sierra-leone-is-no-place-to-be-young.html

Great Success for L.A.C.E.S. Youth Soccer Camp 2016

From July 18th to 22nd, L.A.C.E.S. united 44 children from the Greater DC refugee community in its first Youth Soccer Camp.  Kids from 14 nationalities, some of them just arriving in the US a few weeks prior, had the opportunity to interact through the common language of soccer.

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A dream-team of 33 volunteers made incredible efforts to make sure that the children were having a fun, safe and formative experience.

The Camp Director Mike Ekberg, Assistant Coach for Towson University women’s soccer team, structured an amazing program that linked soccer activities to the core values of L.A.C.E.S. 

The drills were specifically organized around the core values of teamwork, respect, honesty, discipline and fair-play. Frequent water and snack breaks created the opportunity to have mentoring and discussion around these values. At the end of each day,  all the kids came together for a big soccer game, as to have the opportunity to put into practice what they learned about soccer and the core values. During the daily debriefing time the 4 children that displayed the value of that day the best received some yummy gifts.

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Besides an indoor and outdoor soccer field and all the related equipment, L.A.C.E.S. was able to provide every child with daily transportation, food (2 meals/day and several snacks), a customized water bottle and a soccer ball.Capture4

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During the evening of the last day, a block party was hosted at the apartment complex where most of the kids live. It was a great opportunity to get together outside of the field, meet the kids’ families, share stories and make new friends.

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Thanks to the hard work of coaches and volunteers, we could see children making new friends, new life experiences and values, and hopefully a better hope for the future.
This successful first step represents only the starting point of L.A.C.E.S. involvement with the local refugee community. The goal for the coming future is to provide consistent programs over the year. So, let’s start to work on it!

A huge thank-you goes to everybody who made this wonderful experience a reality!

 

When Sport Unites – A Soccer Camp for Refugee Youth

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L.A.C.E.S. is proud to announce the launch of its first Refugee Youth Soccer Camp this summer! The one-week camp will host 60 boys and girls age 9-14 predominately from the greater D.C. refugee community. The camp will be held from July 18-22 2016, from 8:00am to 1:00pm at Total Soccer Arena: 8400 Ardwick Ardmore Rd. Hyattsville, MD 20785.

Children from different countries and languages will gather together through the uniting power of soccer. The goal is to encourage children’s self-esteem and team-building capacities, while promoting social inclusion and cross-cultural exchange. For the duration of the camp, L.A.C.E.S. will provide the children with 2 meals per day, a soccer ball, water bottle, t-shirt, wristband and gifts. Furthermore, transportation will be provided daily from Parkview Garden Apartments in Riverdale and King Square Apartments in Hyattsville, where the most of the participants live. Led by Camp Director Mike Eckberg, Assistant Coach for Towson University’s women’s soccer team, experienced coacheswill train both individual and collective soccer skills, organized games and educative activities in a safe and fun environment.

This camp represents the first step in L.A.C.E.S. involvement with the local refugee community. For the coming future, L.A.C.E.S. is planning to hold one-day camps, for example during school holidays. The goal is to provide continuity to the program, strengthen and expand the group, help the parents take care of their kids during holidays and define new strategies of intervention.

L.A.C.ES. Background

L.A.C.E.S. mission is to raise up positive role models in the world through the avenue of sports, developing mentor driven sports leagues for children in need of healing. We work to create a sustainable, replicable model of community development using sports as a tool to reach at-risk youth and empower their local communities. Our work is focused on promoting:

Local leadership: We believe that each community know the best way to address the social issues that our children face. Through ongoing training, we empower locals to create their own change.

Community Engagement: L.A.C.E.S. partners with the community to identify the most vulnerable children.

In Liberia, since 2007 L.A.C.E.S. has been working with 1200 children, 180 coaches, 20 Liberian staff in 5 communities.  Our work is focused on families fostering children who live on the street, schools providing scholarships to children who cannot afford it and the creation of platforms to address social issues such as Ebola.

In the United States, L.A.C.E.S. is engaging with the refugee community of the greater DC area. The purpose is to promote children’s social inclusion through the uniting power of soccer. This will help them overtake cultural barrier and to find fun and safe environments where to interact with other children.

More info:

www.laces.org

Twitter: @lacesport

Facebook: lacesport

Refugees situation in the US (overview)

http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/refugees-fact-sheet

Refugees in the DC metro area (overview)

http://www.brycs.org/youth/upload/brycs-infographic.pdf

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