Local organization offers access to sports for all kids in the Las Vegas area

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – A Las Vegas organization continues creating a way for all kids in the area to have equal access to sports. One of the reasons why kids may not be able to participate in sports is the cost.

If they could play soccer every day, Giovanni Parra and Jonathan Pineda said they would.

For the 10 and 11-year-olds, it’s more than just a sport.

“It’s just a way to get my feelings out and for me to just get calm,” Pineda said.

“It’s dedicated to my life,” Parra added.

Both are dedicated to the field while working on juggling the ball like a professional.

It’s an opportunity thanks to the non-profit Greater Youth Sports Association. It offers afterschool sports programs for kids, especially in underserved areas, and partners with more than 30 schools in the Valley.

Devonte Woodson, its co-founder and former educator, said sports shifted his life.

“For me personally, I didn’t have a chance to play sports until 8th grade,” Woodson said. “Sports specifically can provide so many positive benefits and with our program, not only do the kids get the opportunity to play sports but they also have tutoring after school.”

Some of these students practice twice a week plus an hour of schoolwork. It’s a place for kids to feel safe and gives them a chance that not everybody has which is to play a sport.

The numbers show the critical need for after-school programs in Nevada. A 202 report by the Afterschool Alliance shows more than 214,000 children would participate in an afterschool program if one were available. This means for every kid in an afterschool program, three more are waiting.

Coach Taylor Shimatsu-Silva who volunteers said it should always be about the kids.

“It can sometimes be hard, especially in these underserved communities [and] sometimes the kids are tough, and they may not have a lot of parent support,” Shimatsu-Silva said.

A lot of the coaches are teachers who are always out on the field being their biggest cheerleader.

“The relationship you build with those kids its incredibly rewarding,” she said.

It’s a group of kids and all with a different story.

Now using sports to learn the importance of education, and build character and life.

Greater Youth Sports Association will host its Character Awards night on May 8. It’s an event honoring the more than 2,500 students who participate in the program.

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