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Making a Difference — Through Soccer 

The SUNY sustainable village team, on a 2017 trip to Akayè, Haiti, includes Chairman H. Carl McCall and Chancellor Kristina Johnson (center, in straw hats) and CID's Heather Senecal (in green dress). (Photo courtesy of SUNY) 

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 25, 2018) — A hundred rural Haitian children will be learning about teamwork and leadership through a weeklong soccer program led in part by UAlbany’s Center for International Development (CID).

The mayor of Akayè in Haiti arranges for summer camps each year to provide extra-curricular educational activities for the 2,000 school-age children in the region. This year CID, part of Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, is partnering up with three nonprofits that use soccer to fuel social change — America Scores New York, Street Football World and Goals Haiti — to offer the camp. In addition to playing soccer, the kids will learn sportsmanship, teamwork and life skills.

The soccer clinic is part of a larger, 10-year initiative of the SUNY system to develop a sustainable village and learning community in Akayè (also known as Arcahaie), west of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. The initiative plans to develop vocational and after-school programs to create sustainable livelihoods in a region impacted by earthquakes, hurricanes and poverty.

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Children play and learn together in a program run by Goals Haiti, one of the partners in the SUNY/CID summer soccer program. (Photo courtesy of Goals Haiti) 

Ten SUNY campuses and five nonprofits are working together on various aspects of development in health, economics and environmental sustainability, supported by a grant from the Kellogg Foundation. CID’s role in the project is to work with local government institutions and stakeholders to build capacity, facilitate community engagement, and provide program monitoring and evaluation.

The group will leave for Haiti on Thursday, July 26.

“SUNY was approached by the local government to do this pilot summer program and CID was happy to be a part of it. We hope soccer camp and other sports based education programs will become a regular activity embedded in the community,” said Gina Volynsky, director of CID. The soccer clinic will employ local coaches and helpers, and is open to kids aged 8 to 16. Volynsky said the older teens will take on roles as youth ambassadors.

Rockefeller College Dean R. Karl Rethemeyer added, “This program shows the best of what an urban research university can do: bring together scholarship, expertise, deep knowledge of our local community, and critical partnerships to make a difference in the lives of children not just here in Albany but in other places like Haiti as well.”

The program is in need of equipment, and CID is looking for donations of new or used soccer balls, pinnies, cleats and cones. Several Albany area schools and soccer organizations have already pledged donations, and Volynsky hopes to create a lasting partnership between Akayè and Albany.

To donate equipment, contact the CID’s Heather Senecal at hsenecal@albany.edu or 518-443-5390.

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