The Finish Line Youth Foundation awarded a $5,000 grant to Erie Neighborhood House to help its Expanded Learning Programs for Children and Youth purchase athletic equipment and support staff supervising sports and recreation activities.

“This grant from the Finish Line Youth Foundation is a perfect fit for our Expanded Learning Programs,” says Erie House executive director Kirstin Chernawsky. “We operate on a full-day schedule during the summer months, and this is a critical time of the year to provide students with a positive, safe environment where our children and youth can be active and lead healthy lives.”

The Expanded Learning Programs have proven to be an effective violence prevention initiative serving close to 300 at-risk children and youth ages 5–18. At Erie House, sports and recreation activities play an important role alongside academic initiatives, leadership development and socio-emotional development.

“Sports have a tremendous health benefit for our youth,” says Joshua Fulcher, director of the Expanded Learning Programs. He points out that many students enrolled in the program hail from parts of the city where access to safe spaces for play is either limited or missing altogether. “This grant will allow our kids to play sports they love, learn sports they haven’t been exposed to, and generally be more active.”

“Sports have a tremendous health benefit for our youth. This grant will allow our kids to play sports they love, learn sports they haven’t been exposed to, and generally be more active.”

– Joshua Fulcher, Director of Expanded Learning Programs

Fulcher believes firmly in the holistic impact sports can have on children and youth. “The health and cognitive benefits of activity are well documented,” he says, “but the opportunities for overcoming adversity and making friends within sports are just as valuable.”

The grant from the Finish Line Youth Foundation will provide equipment—including basketballs and adjustable hoops, whiffle bat and ball sets, indoor soccer nets and floor hockey equipment—as well as pay staff wages when they need to work late or weekend hours in order to organize and supervise sporting events held at Erie House. It has already made a difference: Earlier this month, Erie House hosted a Saturday 3-on-3 tournament for 8- through 12-year-olds in the program.

Finish Line launched its Youth Foundation in 1998 in order to create and enhance opportunities for under-served youth to participate in community-based athletic programs. Since then, the Finish Line Youth Foundation has awarded more than $17 million in funding toward the Special Olympics and other nonprofit organizations like Erie House across the country.

For more information about enrolling in the Expanded Learning Programs, please visit www.eriehouse.org or call 312-583-5800.

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