Aetna Foundation Awards $140,000 Grant toExpand Soccer Wellness Program to Kids in Detroit, Houston and Washington, D.C.

Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:39pm EST

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-- U.S. Soccer Foundation Project Will Reach 2500 Childrenfrom Low-Income
Communities --
HARTFORD, Conn.--(Business Wire)--
As part of its work to promote health and wellness, the Aetna Foundation has
awarded a $140,000 grant to the U.S. Soccer Foundation. The funds will expand
Soccer for Success, a free, after-school fitness and nutrition program, to kids
from low-income communities in Detroit, Houston and Washington, D.C. About 2500
kids are expected to enroll in the program. 

Soccer for Success uses the sport of soccer to help kids from low-income
neighborhoods be physically active in a safe environment and mentored by caring
adults. The program teaches kids how to eat a healthy diet and the importance of
drinking plenty of water, getting a good night`s sleep, managing stress and
other healthy habits. 

"We need to step up our efforts to make healthy lifestyles and wellness our top
priorities if we are to reverse today`s rising rates of diabetes, heart disease
and other chronic conditions," said Gillian Barclay, vice president of the Aetna
Foundation and director of national grant making. "When kids learn good health
habits at an early age, they are more likely to enjoy better health throughout
their lifetime. Soccer forSuccess`s track record shows the program can make a
real difference." 

Unlike sports leagues that focus on athletic competition, Soccer for Success is
designed to improve kids` health through fun exercise and healthy eating. The
program runs after school three or more times a week for 24 weeks. Each
90-minute session includes at least one hour of physical activity to build
stamina and fitness. 

To promote healthier diets, the program teaches kids about the benefits of
eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Even soccer drills incorporate
lessons about nutrition. For example, during the traditional skill-building
drill known as "green light, red light", coaches may shout a healthy food like
"kale" to signal "go" and an unhealthy food like "chips" to signal "stop." 

Ed Foster-Simeon, CEO and president of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, says that the
program`s mission goes beyond promoting kids` physical health. It also helps
build self-esteem and strong social skills. 

"We want to build healthy, vibrant communities using the sport of soccer," said
Foster-Simeon. "Our coaches serve as mentors and help kids make positive
choices, both on and off the field. We encourage families to get involved so
that their kids live a healthy lifestyle after they leave our program. Through
our partnerships with schools and community groups, we are working to improve
kids` well-being in a dynamic way." 

Soccer for Success is managed locally by a community group in each city. Detroit
PAL operates the program in Detroit, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department
in Houston, and DC SCORES in Washington, D.C. 

The U.S. Soccer Foundation launched Soccer for Success in 2009 in Houston and
currently offers the program in 20 cities and will reach about 16,000 kids by
the summer of 2013. In 2011, the federal government`s Social Innovation Fund
awarded $2 million to support the expansion of Soccer for Success. 

About the Aetna Foundation

The Aetna Foundation, Inc. is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm
of Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET). Since 1980, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have
contributed $412 million in grants and sponsorships, including $18 million in
2011. As a national health foundation, we promote wellness, health, and access
to high-quality health care for everyone. This work is enhanced by the time and
commitment of Aetna employees, who have volunteered more than 2.6 million hours
since 2003. Aetna`s current giving is focused on addressing the rising rate of
adult and childhood obesity in the U.S.; promoting racial and ethnic equity in
health and health care; and advancing integrated health care. For more
information, visit www.AetnaFoundation.org. 

About the U.S. Soccer Foundation

The U.S. Soccer Foundation is a recognized leader in sports-based youth
development programs for children in underserved, urban communities. Since its
founding in 1994, the organization has provided more than $59 million in funding
to create and sustain innovative programs across all 50 states and the District
of Columbia. Proven to deliver positive health and social outcomes, the
Foundation`s affordable initiatives offer safe environments in which both boys
and girls thrive. Headquartered in Washington, D.C. the U.S. Soccer Foundation
is a 501(c)(3) organization. Visit www.ussoccerfoundation.org to learn more.

Aetna Foundation
Marnie Goodman, 860-273-2314
GoodmanM2@aetna.com
or
U.S. Soccer Foundation
Krista Washington, 202-872-6662
kwashington@ussoccerfoundation.org


Copyright Business Wire 2013

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