Who we Are:
The underlying concept is that collaboration is more effective than competition, or ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ approach is necessary to address Lawrence’s sport and health inequities and build a stronger, more impactful sports, recreation and sports based youth development (SBYD) sector.
Here is a timeline of the work that led to the Lawrence Sports Alliance being formed
Create several boxes:
The Genesis: In many ways, the Lawrence Sports Leadership Academy, launched in 2016, was the genesis of this collaborative youth sports movement in Lawrence. The persistent efforts of LSA founders, Everyone’s A Player, Beyond Soccer, together with dozens of city sports leaders* to develop a first-of-its-kind, multi-sport leadership experience, served as the launching pad for collective action and resource sharing to expand impact.
It opened up a network for communicating and sharing strategies to determine ways to better connect athletes to sports and opportunities beyond regular sports training, like college counseling, leadership development, and other enrichment support. Most glaringly, the groups started to share more about their collective challenges related to rising equipment, insurance, and facility costs necessary for their organizations and leagues running. Further, despite an incredible passion for their mission work, limited organizational infrastructure affected their ability to effectively reach kids, never mind having the capacity to offer next-level support and mentorship, which is crucial for their long-term success in school, sports, career and life.
When this collective work started in 2016, it became obvious quickly that a “team approach” was necessary to address the following sport and health inequities, which unfortunately have been exacerbated by the pandemic sidelining sports in most cases for 18 months in Lawrence:
- Only 15% of Lawrence High School’s 3,300 student-body played a sport, and with less than 3% played multiple sports;
- The City ranked last in per capita income among Massachusetts’ 351 cities/towns; and
- It also had the state’s highest childhood obesity rates, at 42%
This Shared Commitment & Fortitude Has Created a Movement that isn’t stopping! Here are some of the following ways LSA has been making a difference. See also Initiatives for some of the key LSA priorities:
- Working with the Red Sox Foundation to bring its signature RBI program to Lawrence to obtain equipment support and other funding to reduce their operating expenses so they can better address declining enrollment trends;
- Helping 12 Lawrence Members advance their 2021 summertime reach and objectives through the City’s Youth Empowerment grant that LSA was awarded by the City of Lawrence in 2020. Most of the $75,000 grant funding was distributed to 63 Lawrence teens, ages 13-18, responsible for helping the Members run their important summertime camps, clinics, and events.
- Connecting those youth jobs/student-athletes to a 6-week Youth Empowerment & Mentor Model that provided leadership development, mental health, financial literacy, and goal-setting curriculum, facilitated by Stacy Seward of the Dream Network and Joselyn Marte, GED/ESOL Counselor at Lawrence Public Schools, LSA Member, and Board Member of Suenos Basketball.
- Through key Alliance Advisory Partner, Everyone’s a Player, ensuring that 100% of the Members received more than $2,000 of sports and fitness equipment support thanks to its Annual Golf Fundraising that was run and organized the benefit the Alliance;
- Becoming part of the Mayor’s Health Task Force that contributes to monthly initiatives that improve community health and access to nutritious food;
- Building a panel of experts and mentors to speak with athletes about the importance of education and college readiness to set themselves up for success after high school;
- Sponsoring school-year sports and wellness clinics during COVID-19, like LSA’s clinic with Merrimack College Baseball in 2021 at Sports Member, Mercedes Baseball’s facility for all city baseball groups;
- Engaging We-Coach, now Center for Healing and Justice through Sport for a SBYD “Sports Can Heal” training for Lawrence sports coaches and leaders, so they have the tools to support better the development of their players’ social and emotional learning;
- Embarking on the early stages of a critical research project for essential data collection in Lawrence to understand the City’s “State of Play” or what opportunities, gaps, and hurdles exist related to kids’ access to sports and what makes them stay involved or quit.