Upcoming Program Expansions
In anticipation of our annual recruitment event, our staff makes calls on local social service organizations who serve our target population. Jewish Vocational Services is our primary organization that serves as a clearing house for immigrants in the north east area; however, we also call on Operation Breakthrough, the Boys and Girls Club, and the activity directors of local community centers.
Annual Kick-off, which is used to recruit youth and families to our program, is a family fun day wherein parents bring their children to meet our teams, see demonstrations of technique, enjoy free food and drink, and sign-up for team play. It is at this event, that we take baseline measures in the form of a questionnaire packet. The information gleaned in this packet is used throughout our player’s tenures at Puma Fc in order to provide direction to our instruction and tutorial regarding food, nutrition, family involvement, health and wellness endeavors, and information to access other community support systems.
To determine the baseline needs of our youth, families answer questions pertaining to the child’s diet and nutrition at home, family practices in purchasing groceries, surveying knowledge of public transportation, navigation around community food deserts, participation in athletic activities, social and familial health and wellness activities, and knowledge of the activities, requirements, and rules of soccer. A cadre of volunteers provides the language interpretation in a number of languages, and help for families in completing our data collection. Furthermore, Puma FC’s associate director speaks English, and dialects in Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Spanish and our head coach speaks a variety of African dialects as well as Spanish.
Education and Interventions
A primary determinant for success in athletic endeavors is nutrition. Our target population has, historically, engaged in poor or no nutrition practices for a number of reasons: (1) when they arrive in Kansas City their geographic location is often in the middle of food deserts. That is, there are no conventional grocery stores that are easily accessible and they must rely on fast foods and convenience stores for nutritional sources; (2) they are not familiar with the nutritional benefit or cost savings of preparing a greater amount of whole foods for more people and less cost. (3) Families often lack personal transportation or do not know how to access public transportation. To begin remediation in nutritional deficits in the family, Puma FC has a certified nutritionist and trainer who provide this education to our families in a sustained intervention. Our trainers also provide our families with the rudimentary, but important, information regarding bus routes and costs, carpooling, and they provide help creating transportation networks among our families.
The youth that we seek to reach often do not possess the most fundamental skills that are necessary for good citizenship and necessary for assimilation. Puma FC’s programs target attendance, punctuality, participation, compliance to rules, sustained performance, and integration into the family household by virtue of their parents’ participation.