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Two Valley non-profits join to host 2014 Arizona Youth Sports Day

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Parents can take a short, deep breath. Clothes shopping…done. School supplies…bought. Kids…back in class. But unlike years ago, when parents could relax after Labor Day, today worries increase. Whether it is what youth do after school, injuries that can happen during sports, bulimia or obesity, the challenges to childrearing are immense. With economic burdens and multiple-job pressures, parents need help and there are several organizations using innovative methods to provide it.

As a kid in New York City, my mother was waiting for me to get home from school. After homework, she could open the door and just say “Be back by six for dinner.” We rode our bikes to the park, organized our own stickball games, and amused ourselves safely and worry-free. Now that seems like another world, in a galaxy far away.

In a city of vast distances and limited public transportation, like Phoenix, disadvantaged children can easily fall into bad habits during unoccupied hours after school. In 1991, Henry Salinas got tired of the gang violence in Chandler, Arizona, and started on a personal campaign of exploration, development, and collaboration that resulted in a free youth center called ICAN. After many years in downtown Chandler, the ICAN Lon E. Hoeye Youth Center opened its doors in June 2012. Today, it provides educational and sports programs for 250 students after school.

Linking Sports & Communities (LSC) is a non-profit, which has been encouraging students to stay in school, lead healthy lifestyles, and be financially responsible for 11 years. LSC believes today’s student athletes, like those at ICAN, can be tomorrow’s community leaders. Therefore, with the help of Seth Graham, a LSC Advisory Council member and supporter of ICAN, LSC chose the youth center as the site of its annual Arizona Youth Sports Day.

On October 1, business and community leaders, healthcare providers, and current and retired athletes and coaches will provide workshops on careers in sports, athletes’ health issues, and finances; sports clinics; and a health fair for the students.

"Partnering with LSC for AZ Youth Sports Day will be a great opportunity for our ICAN youth to enjoy a day full of sports and, also, learn about the sports industry,” says ICAN’s President/CEO Becky Johnson.

Businesses interested in sponsoring and participating in Arizona Youth Sports Day can learn more on the Linking Sports website and contact