CHICAGO - The National Automatic Merchandising Association's "Balanced for Life" program and America Scores hosted their second series of youth soccer and creative writing events early in June. The "Jamboree!" and "Shout" festivals took place at Douglas Park here, and at Trinity University in Washington, DC, and followed up on the success of the two leadoff galas in San Francisco and Denver (see VT, June).
America Scores is an innovative program that offers inner-city youngsters a modern approach to the ancient ideal of a sound mind in a sound body. It conducts after-school programs that engage children in at least 90 minutes of soccer three times a week while simultaneously encouraging literacy.
Highlighting the Chicago extravaganza was an appearance by Women's World Cup Soccer champion and two-time U.S. Olympian Brandi Chastain, who welcomed the participants and emphasized that exercise is not only healthful, but also is entertaining. "Being physically active is an important part of staying healthy," she said. "And, by playing soccer, you can have fun with your friends at the same time."
After Chastain's welcome, Tom Whennen, Triple A Services (Romeoville, IL) and Colin Walsh, Coin-Cafe (Blue Island, IL) presented a check for $10,000 to the Chicago Scores organization on behalf of the nation's vending industry; Whennen is president of the Illinois Automatic Merchandising Council.
"Chicago Scores is a great program because it helps get kids active, which we think it critical to the health of our nation's youth," Walsh applauded. "We look forward to working with you on other programs that help protect the health of our nation's youth."
Doing the honors for Chicago Scores at the ceremony was program director Heather Walles. "We're all very proud of the work our students have done over the past year, and are excited to watch them showcase their poetry and soccer skills," she said. "We are also thrilled to have soccer superstar Brandi Chastain, and the support of the nation's vending industry through their 'Balanced for Life' initiative, that helped fund the events we're enjoying today."
Chastain, a world-famous soccer player whose career began in 1991, was a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic team that took the Gold medal in Athens. She scored the winning goal at the final game of the 1999 Women's World Championship, and was a member of the Gold Medal-winning U.S. women's national team at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, GA.
In the nation's capital, hundreds of children from 22 public schools turned out for the 10th annual DC Scores Jamboree! The Washington organization's executive director, Holly O'Donnell, presided at the event, welcomed the participants, and expressed her appreciation to the vending industry for its support through the "Balanced for Life" campaign.
During the opening ceremony, Hugh O'Neill of Hagerstown Canteen Service Inc. presented a $10,000 check from "Balanced for Life" and a separate $1,000 donation from the Maryland/DC Vending Association, of which he is president.
In the U.S., more than 65% of urban schoolchildren do not participate in extracurricular activities involving any form of exercise, and 32% of them are overweight or obese, NAMA noted.