Princeton, N.J.—The Tony Hawk Foundation, Chicago Fire Foundation and Doc Wayne Youth Services have been selected as 2015 winners for the inaugural Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Sports Award. The winners will receive a $5,000 award and will be honored at a September 10, 2015 ceremony at RWJF headquarters in Princeton.
The three recipients have been awarded this honor for their innovative and influential approaches to using sports to build a Culture of Health in their communities. Approaches may include: using sports to help children with social and emotional learning, providing spaces for children to be active, and utilizing sports to help children with mental health challenges. The Sports Award builds on the former Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy, presented by RWJF for the past decade by placing a greater emphasis on collaboration across communities and sectors to build a Culture of Health, the Foundation’s core vision.
"We congratulate our three winning organizations," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of RWJF, "for their dedication to building a Culture of Health and their passion for giving back to their communities. Their creative approaches to using sports to help people of all ages grow and stay healthy will help their communities thrive now and for generations to come."
Chicago Fire Foundation—Professional Sports Team Foundations and Community Relations Departments Category Winner
Established in 1998, the Chicago Fire Foundation is the first nonprofit created by a Major League Soccer club. The foundation contributes to the quality of life in Chicago and its surrounding communities through significant initiatives aimed to assist disadvantaged youth. To date, the foundation has donated more than $1.7 million in grants and contributions. It also funds and manages year-round programs that address the individual health of participants and the environment in which they live, taking a holistic philanthropic approach to sports-based programming.
In 2015, the foundation announced that its P.L.A.Y.S. (Participate, Learn, Achieve, Youth Soccer) Program would expand from eight to 12 schools in Chicago, serving nearly 400 boys and girls grades three through five. The program uses soccer to help with social and emotional learning, enabling participants to strengthen their academic performance. The foundation also participated in the launch of Premier Skills, an innovative program that creates safer play spaces and uses sports to promote inclusion and teach new skills. The program site is situated on the unofficial border between two rival gang territories, previously avoided by neighborhood residents. Premier Skills has transformed the culture of the neighborhood by creating an engaging and welcoming space, including a turf facility that the foundation built.
"On behalf of Andrew Hauptman and the entire Chicago Fire family, we are incredibly honored to be recognized with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Sports Award," said Chicago Fire COO Atul Khosla. "As an organization, we are committed to being a meaningful community partner and give back to the Chicagoland area. Continued outreach through our programs including P.L.A.Y.S. and Premier Skills has allowed us to help build healthier communities and provide safe play spaces for those in need."
Tony Hawk Foundation—Individual Athletes and Professional Coaches Category Winner
The Tony Hawk Foundation focuses on supporting and empowering youth. Since 2002, the foundation has provided critical advocacy training to more than 2,000 community groups and awarded more than $5.4 million to develop 569 skateparks in all 50 states. Skateparks the foundation has helped to create receive more than five million visits annually, and its programs have an all-inclusive approach, providing spaces for children to be active, maintain a healthy lifestyle, play safely, and use sports to increase self-esteem and leadership skills.
"This acknowledgement from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is a reminder that the work we’re doing resonates far beyond the communities we assist," Tony Hawk said. "It’s truly an honor to be recognized on this level and receive the RWJF Sports Award. It inspires all of us at THF to keep innovating."
Doc Wayne Youth Services—Influential Leader and Model for Others Making Communities Healthier Through Sport Category Winner
Doc Wayne Youth Services fuses sport and therapy to heal and strengthen youth. The organization works primarily with low-income youth suffering from a variety of mental health challenges largely caused by exposure to complex trauma including neglect, abuse, violent crime and sexual trafficking. Doc Wayne Youth Services’ sports-based intervention incorporates principles from trauma-informed care and positive youth development. Doc Wayne Youth Services reached 500 youth last year through two trauma-informed interventions. Doc Wayne’s interventions are provided within housing developments, schools and residential programs, most often in Boston and eastern Massachusetts. These innovative programs service children who do not have access to, or are resistant to, therapy. Youth have been seen running towards their therapy sessions, eager to begin. Doc Wayne Youth Services’ vision for engaging, high quality, evidence-based mental health interventions is game changing.
"This is an incredible honor to have earned this recognition from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation," Executive Director of Doc Wayne Youth Services, David Cohen, said. "We have a dedicated and passionate team working with kids in the community daily and this recognition is a testament to their hard work. So many young people face a variety of mental health challenges and our hope is that through this new relationship with the Foundation we will be able to impact the lives of more youth through the power of sport, helping them find their positive path."
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Sports Award
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Sports Award honors individuals, organizations and teams that are making communities healthier through sport and are dedicated to creating a Culture of Health. Follow the award on Twitter (@RWJFSportsAward) or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rwjfsportsaward.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitteror on Facebook atwww.rwjf.org/facebook.