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AFH News

AFH Transforms Popular AFH Fit Program

As Athletes for Hope continues to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing needs of students across the country, we are thrilled to announce that the AFH Fit Program has undergone a transformation this summer and will now be known as the CHAMPS Program.

Originally created to address the critical issue of childhood obesity, AFH Fit has been a part of hundreds of classrooms nationwide, impacting hundreds of thousands of kids. As the need for mental wellness in schools grows, AFH Fit has combined with our H.E.A.R.T. Curriculum to put children’s mental and physical well-being first.

Only one in four children in the U.S. is getting the recommended amount of physical activity each day. Getting kids moving – no matter the time of year – is important now more than ever as rates of depression and anxiety in youth have surged, a trend that has only intensified due to changes and stressors since the COVID-19 pandemic (www.childrenscolorado.org, 2023). According to Mental Health America, as of 2022 over 10% of America’s youth have severe major depression with approximately 15% having experienced a major depressive episode within the previous year.

Leveraging the structure of AFH Fit, the CHAMPS curriculum will integrate mental wellness lessons alongside our existing physical movement and leadership activities, creating a holistic approach to youth well-being. Program participants can expect to see brand new on-demand videos, student workbooks, and teacher guides that pair with each of the 6 sessions following the curriculum brought to them by professional, Olympic, Paralympic, and collegiate athletes.

Courage | Honesty | Accountability | Mindfulness | Positivity | Strength

The monthly sessions reinforce the importance of physical activity, and children’s mental wellness, help to identify helpful behaviors and practices that promote daily mental health, and create a setting for open conversations about what wellness means for kids.

If you are a teacher who is interested in bringing an athlete to your classroom this fall (virtually or in-person), please fill out this signup form by September 29, 2023.

AFH News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Arc Joins September 11th Day of Service and Remembrance for Emergency Preparedness

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On this September 11th Day of Service and Remembrance, Athletes for Hope will join thousands of community organizations across the country in turning a day of tragedy into a day of service. These volunteer efforts will pay tribute to the individuals lost and injured in the attacks, as well as honor the first responders and the many others who have risen in service to defend freedom.

This year, Athletes for Hope’s 9/11 activities will focus on emergency preparedness, developing and implementing solutions that ensure that children and adults with disabilities are able to receive the help they need should calamity strike. Volunteers with intellectual and developmental disabilities will work alongside volunteers without disabilities to inform others about the need for disaster preparedness that includes all members of communities. 

The Arc of Baton Rouge, the Baton Rouge Fire Department, student-athletes from LSU and Southern University, and other community leaders will take part in on-site safety training, art, and painting for a local military program and write thank you letters for soldiers through Operation Gratitude.

Athletes for Hope’s event details are as follows:

WHAT: #911 Day of Service and Remembrance Event

WHEN: September 11, 2023, 11 am-1 pm

WHERE: The Arc of Baton Rouge, 12616 Jefferson Highway, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

“Every emergency plan needs to be inclusive of people with disabilities. People with disabilities are often disproportionately affected by disaster, but unfortunately, their needs are many times not considered in organizational emergency plans and activities,” said Chief Wellbeing Officer Suzanne Potts, LMSW, MPH. “September 11th Day of Service and Remembrance gives us the opportunity to change this dangerous pattern. We can turn a day of tragedy into a day of doing good by establishing emergency plans that account for the needs of people with disabilities who are important members of every community.” 

AmeriCorps, the federal agency that leads the September 11th Day of Service and Remembrance, selected The Arc and a small group of other organizations to plan and participate in volunteer projects in honor of the victims and first responders of the September 11th attacks and our brave service members. 

The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy, and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 600 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with IDD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis. 

For media inquiries, please contact: Kenya Warren-Hollins (kwarren@athletesforhope.org, (504) 428-9737)

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About Athletes for Hope

Founded by Muhammad Ali, Andre Agassi, Mia Hamm, and nine other elite athletes in 2006, Athletes for Hope (AFH) is a cause-neutral non-profit that educates, encourages, and empowers athletes to find their passions and use their time to positively engage with their communities. Over the past 16 years, AFH has educated more than 12,000 professional, Olympic, Paralympic, and collegiate athletes through its Causeway workshop series, and helped athletes volunteer with hundreds of underserved schools and impactful community organizations through core programs that focus on helping underserved children become more physically active, changing the public stigma around mental health, and brightening the lives of children in hospitals. Through their dedication and passion for doing good, AFH athletes have positively impacted the lives of millions around the world.

AFH News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Athletes for Hope recognized as a NYSS ChampionSM to Promote Participation in Youth Sports

Athletes for Hope becomes an NYSS Champion

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Athletes for Hope is pleased to be recognized by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a National Youth Sports Strategy (NYSS) Champion. 

As a NYSS Champion, Athletes for Hope has demonstrated their organization’s commitment to support safe, fun, inclusive, developmentally appropriate, and accessible youth sports opportunities. Athletes for Hope is recognized along with other NYSS Champions on health.gov as part of a growing network of organizations partnering with HHS to improve the youth sports landscape in America. 

“We know children who obtain regular physical activity gain important physical and mental health benefits, which are more important than ever considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” explains Rear Adm. Paul Reed, M.D., deputy assistant secretary for health at HHS. “I’m thrilled to acknowledge the work of the NYSS Champions who are helping to foster a lifelong love of sports and physical activity for our Nation’s youth.”

“We are incredibly honored and proud to be recognized as a National Youth Sports Strategy (NYSS) Champion by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion,” AFH CEO Jason Belinkie said. “At Athletes for Hope, we believe in the transformative power of sports in the lives of young people. By joining forces with other NYSS Champions, we are dedicated to shaping a future where every child has the chance to experience the physical and mental health benefits of regular physical activity. Together, we will continue to work towards realizing the NYSS vision of ensuring that all youth have the opportunity, motivation, and access to play sports.” 

The NYSS is a federal roadmap with actionable strategies for youth, adults who interact with youth, organizations, communities, and public policy makers to increase participation in youth sports and improve the youth sports experience. The NYSS vision is that one day all youth will have the opportunity, motivation, and access to play sports. NYSS Champions are recognized for working towards achieving this vision. 

For media inquiries, please contact: Kylie Reeves (kreeves@athletesforhope.org, 919-593-7975)

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About Athletes for Hope

Founded by Muhammad Ali, Andre Agassi, Mia Hamm, and nine other elite athletes in 2006, Athletes for Hope (AFH) is a cause-neutral non-profit that educates, encourages, and empowers athletes to find their passions and use their time to positively engage with their communities. Over the past 16 years, AFH has educated more than 12,000 professional, Olympic, Paralympic, and collegiate athletes through its Causeway workshop series, and helped athletes volunteer with hundreds of underserved schools and impactful community organizations through core programs that focus on helping underserved children become more physically active, changing the public stigma around mental health, and brightening the lives of children in hospitals. Through their dedication and passion for doing good, AFH athletes have positively impacted the lives of millions around the world.

NYSS Champion is a service mark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Used with permission. Participation by Athletes for Hope does not imply endorsement by HHS/ODPHP.

About the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

ODPHP plays a vital role in keeping the Nation healthy through Healthy People 2030, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition, and other programs, services, and education activities. ODPHP is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To learn more about ODPHP visit health.gov or follow @HealthGov on Twitter and @HHSHealthGov on Facebook.

AFH NEWS

Athletes for Hope Hosts Inaugural Athlete Mental Health Advocacy Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  On the morning of Wednesday, May 31st, 2023, Athletes for Hope (AFH) hosted its first Athlete Mental Health Advocacy Day at the U.S. Capitol. In a day full of emotional stories and successful championing of U.S. legislators, AFH moved further towards its goal of helping establish a National Athlete Mental Health Bill of Rights. 

As AFH Board Chair Mark Levinstein and AFH CEO Jason Belinkie stood before a room full of athlete mental health organization leaders, the united mission to support legislation that advocates athlete mental health took many steps forward. 

Williams and Connolly, LLC generously hosted a morning breakfast and briefing that began at 9 a.m. where many organizations were in attendance.

To begin the day, Morgan’s Message’s Dona and Kurt Rodgers, Hilsinki’s Hope’s Mark and Kym Hilinski, Awvee Storey, Andrea Kalochristianikas and Rawle Andrews Jr. headlined a series of testimonies that shared each person’s connection to the athlete mental health space. 

Whether it was heartfelt stories about family and friends suffering from mental health problems, loved ones lost, or sharing an appreciation for AFH’s Athlete Mental Health Advocacy Day, the breakfast ended with more relationships formed and the coalition only growing. 

“We were so thrilled to bring together this incredible group of athletes, advocates, parents, and partners for our first athlete mental health advocacy day,” said AFH Chief Wellbeing Officer Suzanne Potts. “This kickoff meeting is an exciting opportunity to learn from experts in this space and lead our athlete networks towards greater mental health advocacy opportunities.”

AFH would also like to thank The Hidden Opponent, Tackle What’s Next, Mindz Matter, Enough Suffering in Silence, the Bipartisan Policy Center, Alliance of Social Workers in Sports, The Center for Healing and Justice Through Sport, Grassroots Health and Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative for attending. 

After the morning brief, AFH Director of Development Diana Venezia, Suzanne Potts, and Jason Belinkie led several groups to the U.S. Capitol and surrounding buildings for discussions and conversations with congressmen and their various staff. 

The groups met with the staff of many Senators and Representatives including Representative Jamie Raskin, Senator John Cornyn, Representative Colin Allred, Senator Richard Blumenthal, and several others. 

The discussions spanned from a breakdown of what AFH and the other organizations’ goals are in terms of helping establish legislation as well as an overview of how politicians can help athlete mental health as a whole.

The staffers were receptive to the potential of an Athlete Mental Health Bill of Rights and opened the doors to future collaboration between AFH and Capitol Hill. 

The day ended with a group photograph and debrief in front of the U.S. Capitol where the groups shared their conversations and what can be done to help improve the awareness spreading in the future. 

As preparations begin for the next Athlete Mental Health Advocacy Day, AFH invites parties to join the coalition for upcoming Advocacy Days. 

AFH News

Athletes for Hope Receives 9/11 Day of Service Grant

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C.- [April 24, 2023] On April 21, 2023, Athletes for Hope (AFH) launched their first emergency preparedness volunteer service opportunity thanks to a $10,000 grant by The Arc of the U.S. and AmeriCorps.

Last Friday, Athletes for Hope’s Southern Sports Philanthropy Certificate Program (SPCP) were able to engage over 100 students at Progress Elementary in Baton Rouge at an inclusive field day that promoted physical activity, provided fire safety, and encouraged fun learning ahead of Louisiana Leap testing.

With over 25 volunteers from Southern University Athletics, the Baton Rouge Fire Department, ASL On The Bluff, and the Alpha Sigma Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Athletes for Hope was able to increase community safety, preparedness, and resilience in case of a disaster. 

“We are honored to be one of the recipients again of the 9/11 Day of Service grant. We understand that every community has unique needs, and we are eager to support and strengthen Baton Rouge as we lead inclusive service projects that focus on emergency preparedness throughout the duration of the grant,” said Suzanne Potts, LMSW, MPH, Chief Wellbeing Officer at AFH. “It is through these service projects that we know that we can make our community stronger and better for decades to come.”

Athletes for Hope has committed to engaging 40+ community members in more than 400 hours of service over the course of the grant period and will hold a 9/11 Day of Service this September.

For media inquiries, please contact: Kylie Reeves (kreeves@athletesforhope.org, 919-593-7975)

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About Athletes for Hope

Founded by Muhammad Ali, Andre Agassi, Mia Hamm, and nine other elite athletes in 2006, Athletes for Hope (AFH) is a cause-neutral non-profit that educates, encourages, and empowers athletes to find their passions and use their time to positively engage with their communities. Over the past 16 years, AFH has educated more than 12,000 professional, Olympic, Paralympic, and collegiate athletes through its Causeway workshop series, and helped athletes volunteer with hundreds of underserved schools and impactful community organizations through core programs that focus on helping underserved children become more physically active, changing the public stigma around mental health, and brightening the lives of children in hospitals. Through their dedication and passion for doing good, AFH athletes have positively impacted the lives of millions around the world.

About The Arc

The Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and serving them and their families. We work tirelessly to uphold our vision that every individual and family living with IDD in the United States has access to the information, advocacy, and skills they need to support their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes. Learn more at TheArc.org.

AFH Virtual Mental Health Open House

Calling professional, Olympic, Paralympic & collegiate athletes!

Join us for a virtual open house to:

Learn more about our Whole Being Athlete program, do a few exercises from our Mental Health Sessions, meet like-minded athletes, and discuss ways to get involved!

Spaces are limited! Questions? Contact Denise Kamyuka at dkamyuka@athletesforhope.org.