Oakland, Calif – September 29, 2021 – Youth sports programs across the country, particularly in low-income communities, were devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving an extraordinary need for volunteer coaches. To help these programs get off the ground again, Under Armour is partnering with Coaching Corps to launch The Empathy Challenge, an initiative offering free Empathy Training for volunteer coaches to support youth.
This partnership aims to recruit youth coaches and train them to help kids become the best versions of themselves through sport. The pandemic and its effects have had a profound impact on youth across the country, and these results can be seen more starkly in underserved communities than anywhere else. Now more than ever, it is critical for coaches to understand the emotions and feelings of youth in under-resourced communities, many of whom have faced systemic inequalities which can many times result in toxic stress, a condition that can lead to lifelong problems in learning, behavior, and physical and mental health.
Fortunately, research indicates that supportive, responsive relationships with caring adults, such as a teacher or a coach, can prevent or reverse the damaging effects of a toxic stress response. Based on this understanding, Coaching Corps developed its Empathy Training Course to teach coaches how to appreciate the perspective of kids, connecting with them to create positive outcomes together. Under Armour and Coaching Corps recognize the many ways children benefit from access to a supportive, responsive relationship with an adult and are teaming up to recruit and train coaches to create that positive experience for those who need it most.
“Afterschool and other youth sports programs across the country are grappling with multiple challenges as they return to sport, with depleted staff, local restrictions, and much uncertainty in how to plan during this ever-changing landscape,” said Janet Carter, CEO at Coaching Corps. “Under Armour is jump-starting our effort to compel adults to join us and be ready to support youth as they get back on courts and fields.”
The Empathy Challenge launched to Under Armour teammates during Armour Week, an annual celebration and community service event when teammates volunteer their time and energy toward giving back to the local communities where they live and work. As part of the initiative, Under Armour encouraged its employees to take the Empathy Training and to volunteer to become youth coaches. In just one week, Under Armour teammates from across the globe have accepted the challenge and have taken the training, with over thirty teammates getting involved in coaching in their local communities.
The partnership with Under Armour will amplify volunteer coaching opportunities across the globe and allow Coaching Corps to offer this empathy training free to any coaches working in under-resourced communities.
According to The Aspen Institute’s Project Play Initiative, positive sports experiences are associated with a range of benefits for youth, including: higher future earnings; less smoking and drug use; decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and childhood obesity; higher academic achievement and productivity; improved life skills; and better overall mental health and self-esteem. In addition, a good coach can transform the future of youth athletes by ensuring that they learn how to work together, celebrate success, manage failure, and build healthy relationships with their peers.
About Under Armour
Under Armour, Inc., headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, is a leading inventor, marketer, and distributor of branded athletic performance apparel, footwear, and accessories. Designed to empower human performance, Under Armour’s innovative products and experiences are engineered to make athletes better. For further information, please visit http://about.underarmour.com.
About Coaching Corps
Since 2012, Coaching Corps has been fueling a movement of skilled coaches to give kids in low-income communities of color the sports mentors they want and deserve. By partnering with over 700 afterschool programs across the country, Coaching Corps has provided more than 210,000 youth and kids in low-income communities of color with the opportunity to play sports under the guidance of a caring, well-trained coach. Informed by the latest research on youth character development, Coaching Corps trains coaches to foster persistence, optimism, self-regulation, and empathy in kids, providing coaches with the ongoing support they need to ensure girls and boys in under-resourced communities learn skills that last lifetimes. Based in Oakland, California, Coaching Corps is a 501(c)(3) organization. More information about Coaching Corps can be found at www.coachingcorps.org.