More than a dozen sports-related nonprofits are getting money to work with children on Atlanta's Westside. They'll be in neighborhoods near Mercedes-Benz Stadium where local businesses and charities have been focusing their efforts in recent years.
On Monday, there was a big kickoff day for the grant program with a couple hundred children gathering in Washington Park to get to know the nonprofits that are expanding in the Atlanta neighborhoods of English Avenue, Vine City and Washington Park.
Lea Rolfes, executive director of Girls on the Run Atlanta, said the grant will help her group expand its after-school programs.
“We know that a lot of these girls don't have opportunities after school or even during the school day to get moving, and that is so important just to move,” she said. “Stress relief, better sleep, better focus in school."
In addition to running, the 14 groups teach soccer, golf, cycling, gymnastics, tennis, baseball and even fishing.
“That's a lizard,” Kendall Newson said, handing out bait to a group of children. Some were thrilled by the colorful rubber bait. Others, less impressed, howled, “Eww.”
Newson, a former NFL player, runs the organization Teach a Child to Fish.
“I think fishing opens the child's mind up for the conversation that you can have with discipline, patience,” he said.
The grants add up to $3 million from Mercedes-Benz USA and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.