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Review for The South African Lacross Project Inc, Towson, MD, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

The South African Lacrosse Project is a non-profit corporation organized for charitable purposes and the advancement of education by implementing and coordinating a lacrosse program in South Africa for at-risk youth, and assisting in the development and promotion of HIV prevention programs for orphans in South Africa.
SALP was originally conceived by two teenage brothers named Harrison and Kip Hart who live in Towson, Maryland, and has since grown into a full-scale youth development program in the Waterberg region in North Limpopo Province, South Africa. Through lacrosse education and training, SALP empowers at-risk youth by helping them to recognize what they are capable of accomplishing in their lives.

The South African Lacrosse Project teaches lacrosse to orphans and at-risk children from the Waterberg Welfare Society (“WWS”). Our lacrosse camps take place during the school holidays in July. The camp takes place over the course of a week, and lasts all day with a break for lunch. Camp is taught by Kip and Harrison Hart, as well as volunteers from the U.S. who have strong lacrosse backgrounds. The children who come to camp range in age from 7 to 20, yet all of the children play together. They are not divided into teams by age; they work together across the age difference. Lacrosse is used to teach discipline, cooperation, responsibility and the benefit of hard work. During the school year, the children play lacrosse every Wednesday, and are coached by members of the staff at the WWS who have also been through camp. The South African Lacrosse Project provides instruction and all of the equipment for the lacrosse program. Currently, four schools are participating in the lacrosse program which provides a chance for competitive play. Over 60 children participated in the 2009 lacrosse camp.

The South African Lacrosse Project uses facilities in Vaalwater owned by the WWS or Meetsetshehla High School. WWS has a sports equipment room that houses all the pads, sticks, balls, helmets, uniforms and shoes that the children play with. The fields the children practice and play on are located at Meetsetshehla High School. We will also be funding a sports equipment building and changing rooms at Meetsetshehla so that all the equipment can be secured in one location close to the fields and the children will be able to change into their sports clothes in a private location.

SALP has recruited experienced and qualified coaches to travel to South Africa to coordinate the program and to serve as coaches on a volunteer basis. SALP stimulates interest in lacrosse through its program and encourages youth participation in competitive matches and encourages good sportsmanship. Its program and facilities are available to any child in the community who desires to participate, is physically able, and is within the age range of the program. Most if not all youth that participate in the program are at-risk youth due to the high levels of poverty, crime and HIV/AIDS in the Waterberg region. Funds of the organization are derived entirely from contributions by the interested public. Disbursements are for equipment, clinic, education, traveling expenses, and general operating expenses.

Long term goals of SALP include raising enough funds to ensure that every orphan at the WWS is able to attend school (there is a fee to attend public school, and children enter high school with an average of a third grade reading level), and receives enough nutrition to be able to study and participate in sports effectively. Many of the orphans at WWS are infected and/or affected by HIV. In January of each year we are given a list of orphans who will not be able to attend school due to financial hardship, and we allocate funds to WWS to provide scholarships for children who show potential for academic success. Other funds provided to WWS will include funding for the construction of a sports equipment building and changing rooms that are closer to the lacrosse fields at Meetsetshehla High School. This building will store and secure the lacrosse equipment close to the lacrosse fields at the school, so that the equipment does not need to be transported from the WWS to the school (approximately three miles away). Future funds to the WWS will support the education and promote the well-being of children of the WWS (i.e. high school scholarships and a breakfast meal plan to stimulate brain activity before school).

Role:  Board Member