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.
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.
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.
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.
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!