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District Attorney Rice Funds Free Character-Building Soccer Camp

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said that more than 80 local kids are learning valuable character building and citizenship skills this summer, in addition to playing soccer, at the DA’s Soccer Leadership Camp in Westbury. The eight-week camp is operated in partnership with the Leadership Training Institute and the Town of North Hempstead, which donates the use of Martin Bunky Reid Park for the camp. The Leadership Camp is one of many of the DA’s anti-gang and anti-violence initiatives for youth and is funded through the DA’s civil forfeiture assets.

The camp’s goal is to instill good character and put campers on a path of good citizenship in the future. In addition to teaching the children to play soccer, the program also teaches players leadership skills, how to work together, and encourages physical fitness. Each one of these traits will lead to a healthier, happier child, but more importantly, a stronger and better-rounded adult with the necessary skills to make a positive impact on his or her community.

“Good citizens don’t commit crimes and it is essential that we do everything we can to teach our young people the value of being an asset to your community,” Rice said. “By getting children of different backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures together, we foster an environment of friendship and understanding from an early age. This is about more than just soccer. It’s about investing in our future by giving our kids an alternative to a life of gangs, guns, and drugs and building stronger neighborhoods one child at a time.”

For the kids, ages 5 through 16 years, the camp is the place to be Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Many of them walk the distance from their home to the park just to attend.

A typical session begins with learning and practicing soccer skills, during snack time the campers have role-playing and character building exercises where they earn Character Points for their good behavior and ends with full team soccer games. At the end of the camp season, two campers are chosen by the coaches to receive the “Camp Citizenship Award.” The winner also receives extra school supplies, donated by the Centro American Taxi Company. Past Good Citizenship Camper Award winners have gone on to become counselors at the camp.

“This camp opens up a whole new world for many of these children, where good character, citizenship and leadership can inspire them and make them feel that they are part of something greater than themselves,” Rice said. “They learn that it can be fun to be a good citizen and follow rules.”

Associated Supermarkets donates all the snacks and drinks for the camp.