US Lacrosse, the sport’s national governing body, has selected the Ohio City neighborhood in Cleveland as the second pilot site for the Lacrosse Communities Project – a new nationwide program developed to create a vertically-integrated series of opportunities for children to participate in lacrosse from grade school through adulthood. The initiative aims to expand the reach of US Lacrosse programs into underserved urban populations while propelling the organization’s mission of providing accessibility and opportunity for kids across the country. The Lacrosse Communities Project-Cleveland launches today at the Urban Community School in Ohio City with a press conference followed by a skills demonstration on the newly built small-sided lacrosse field at the Urban Community School.

“Ohio City’s diverse and dedicated residents, committed community organizations and stakeholders, and the strong leadership of the US Lacrosse North Coast Ohio Chapter presented this neighborhood as an ideal national pilot location for the Lacrosse Communities Project,” said Steve Stenersen, President and CEO of US Lacrosse. “We believe that lacrosse is a vehicle for enrichment and has the ability to change the trajectory of a child’s life, and we are committed to working with our trusted community partners Ohio City and the surrounding Cleveland region to help grow accessibility and opportunity for kids of all socioeconomic backgrounds.”

Through institutional partnerships with Ohio City Inc. and its Near West Recreation program, the Urban Community School, with support from St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland State University and the City of Cleveland Municipal School District and the Lacrosse Communities Project-Cleveland will provide the framework necessary to create self-sustaining, multi-generational youth lacrosse programs. Complete with cooperatively run clinics, feeder schools and recreational programs, inter-team rivalries, coach and training, health and safety education and the development of formal and informal networks, the aim of the initiative is to appropriately introduce young people to lacrosse and the ongoing personal growth opportunities produced by a safe and positive sport experience.  

The Lacrosse Communities Project-Cleveland joins community-enhancement programs implemented by Ohio City Inc., including Ohio City Farm and Near West Recreation.

“We are deeply committed to making Ohio City a family-friendly neighborhood, and ensuring the health, happiness and future success of our children is a top priority,” said Tom McNair, executive director of Ohio City Inc. “The launch of US Lacrosse’s Lacrosse Communities Project in our backyard provides Ohio City youth with unparalleled access to physical activity, life skills mentoring, and a strengthened connection to the community they call home through the universal language of sports.”

US Lacrosse and its North Coast Ohio Chapter have committed $300,000 to the program in local and national funds over two years. In addition to delivering ongoing lacrosse programming for youth in the Ohio City and surrounding Cleveland neighborhoods, a portion of those proceeds have funded the development of a small-sided lacrosse field at Urban Community School. US Lacrosse worked with GreenFields, its official national turf partner, to install the new field to provide a first-class experience for the community.

“We are excited to partner with US Lacrosse,” said president of the Urban Community School, Tom Gill. “Introducing the Lacrosse Communities Project to this neighborhood will create new opportunities for our youth to foster physical strength, mental stamina and increased work ethic through the sport of lacrosse.”

Program funds will also support a new Lacrosse Manager position for deployment of lacrosse programming to the Ohio City and surrounding areas, resources to develop lacrosse within school physical education classes and after school programs, equipment needed for boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams, CPR and AED training, and education on heart-healthy food choices to area youth.

Additional community supporters include Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson, Councilmember Kerry McCormack, State Representative Stephanie Howse, Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.

“The city of Cleveland and the Ohio City Neighborhood are honored to be selected as a national pilot site of the Lacrosse Communities Project,” said Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson. “This is truly a collaborative approach and a great example of entities city- and state-wide coming together in the best interest of the children in our community.”

“I am excited to welcome US Lacrosse to Ohio City and Cleveland,” said Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge. “It is critical for our city’s children to have a safe space to play and gain exposure to new sports and experiences.  Participation in sports fosters a sense of community and promotes health and fitness in children and their families.”

The Lacrosse Communities Project national pilot program launched in Albany, N.Y., in June 2017, and Brooklyn, N.Y. will follow this fall.  
 

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