By TAYLOR COOPER
COVID-19 has put the kibosh on most sports programs, but Coastal Outreach Soccer isn’t letting that get in the way of keeping kids physically and mentally active.
“We’re encouraging our kids as much as they can to focus on completing their assignments academically as well as getting them the resources they’re in need of to do that,” said Shawn Williams, executive director of the sports and academic mentoring program.
With schools shut down and a statewide social distancing mandate in effect, Williams said that means getting educational material and supplies, including laptops, home-delivered to children in the program.
“We are actually looking at starting some virtual STEM activities, purchasing kits that we’ll be able to give kids to do a virtual class with them,” Williams said. “What we’ve been looking at is what can we do to keep them engaged.”
Keeping kids active, both mentally and physically, is especially important when so many are cooped up inside.
Without an outlet, like the soccer team, to blow off some of their energy, Williams said Coastal Outreach Soccer is doing what it can.
“All our kids have been given some drills and stuff they can do at home,” Williams said. “We give them a soccer ball and a drill sheet so they can go out to the yard and do some drills each day.
“We’ve had some kids take videos of what they’re doing in their yard so we can share those with the teams and families to encourage them to keep active.”
The program has also taken up delivering food to families whose breadwinners are furloughed or laid off.
“Our program has always been about identifying the needs of our children and families, and making that adjustment to help them meet those needs,” Williams said.
The food was donated by local restaurants through the Meals to Heal program and Rich’s, while a lot of the money for school supplies came from an emergency charity fund to help local families dealing with the fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Coastal Outreach Soccer is one of fourteen local nonprofit organizations that received a grant award in the first distribution from the Community Emergency Needs Fund,” said Virginia Brown, president and CEO of United Way of Coastal Georgia, which manages the fund along with the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation.
So far, $400,000 has been donated to the fund and $100,000 has been awarded to local groups to “provide basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, water, prescriptions, healthcare and transportation to work and medical care.”
For more information, visit coastalgeorgiafoundation.org/news/coronavirus.
Coastal Outreach Soccer has also been involved in giving back to health care workers during these uncertain times. When Brunswick High alum and Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay donated 175 meals to Southeast Georgia Health System team members, it was Coastal Outreach Soccer who helped deliver the meals.
Slay has been involved with the program for years, hosting camps and providing support for the program.
The support that Coastal Outreach Soccer has gotten over the years has been put to great use.
The program was founded in 2004 as an after-school program aimed at underserved and low-income families. COS had 15 players at the time.
Since then, the organization has grown to support more than 200 children between the ages 4 and 18 years old. Their academic endeavors have as successful as the program’s athletic ones with a 100 percent graduation rate since 2014.
Visit www.coastaloutreachsoccer.com for more information about the program or to make a donation.