Don’t discount the ripple effect.

Last year, the Decatur (Ill.) Park District was one of the recipients of a US Lacrosse Soft-Stick Equipment Grant, which provided the organization with 30 soft lacrosse sticks and 30 soft lacrosse balls. Decatur’s goal was to use the equipment to introduce lacrosse to kids in their community and surrounding schools.

During the months of October, November, and December, members of the Decatur Park District staff visited physical education classes in 15 different schools in their community and shared the game with almost 2,500 students across 130 different classes.

In addition, the Park District hosted two lacrosse open houses and had over 75 kids attend each time.

Most recently, the Park District staff concluded a series of indoor skills clinics that took place over four Sundays. College players from Illinois State University assisted with the men’s and women’s clinics.

Based on the initial interest, the Decatur Park District is starting a 7 vs. 7 outdoor youth lacrosse league this spring. The staff will also begin another round of school visits in the coming weeks with physical education classes and hopes to expand into other counties surrounding Decatur.

One soft-stick equipment grant of 30 sticks and 30 balls sure has gone a long way, reaching thousands of kids in just this community alone. US Lacrosse provides approximately 300 grants every year to schools and organizations just like the Decatur Park District.

"It is our hope that the co-ed version of lacrosse, modeled through the soft-stick lacrosse experience, can inspire participants to seek opportunities to play the traditional version of the game," said Meghan Chaplick, senior manager for programs at US Lacrosse.

For school districts and other youth organizations interested in duplicating Decatur’s efforts in their local communities, US Lacrosse is now offering new grant opportunities.

Begin the application process or simply get more information by visiting the US Lacrosse website.

“I just wanted to say how appreciative we are for the equipment that US Lacrosse provided to us and for the valuable resources available on the website. Thanks again for everything,” said Tony Albertina of the Decatur Park District.