US Rugby Foundation Ball Grant Recipient Spotlight – Chicago Lions Youth and Community Rugby

Name of Program:  Chicago Lions Youth and Community Rugby

Location:    Near Westside of Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Lions Charitable Association, DBA Chicago Lions Rugby, is based in the North Lawndale and East Garfield Park communities in Chicago. These communities are stretched over three aldermanic wards and three police districts. These communities account for 25% of all shootings in Chicago and where 42.75% of families fall under the poverty line. With Chicago Public Schools cutting funding for after-school programs and sports programs, and through discussions with local police, the biggest risk to children is the time straight after school until their parents or guardians return from work. This is the time where children are recruited by gangs and used to move drugs and weapons around the community. Following a pilot program with high schoolers, we identified that high school students aren’t interested in learning a new sport. We therefore shifted out focus to younger students and we found success at the middle school age group which was later confirmed to be the right age group through conversions with Chicago Police Department Officers. They informed us that children at the age of 12 were making the decision on whether to join a gang or put their focus on school.

Our youth program is split into two arms. The first is Lions Youth Rugby (LYR), which is the organization’s pathway that runs from age four through to high school and then connects with the Lions Men’s and Women’s programs. This provides a pathway through which players can continue their rugby journey, if they choose, all through one club. Lions Community Rugby (LCR) is our outreach arm and is focused on the development of youth through the use of rugby in after-school programming. This program is based around a social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum from Play Rugby USA and is aimed at keeping children off the streets during high risk times, as well as developing SEL skills.

Point of contact:   Andy Rose (312) 888-1994   youth@chicagolions.com

Link to team/program website: www.lionsforhopesc.org or Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/lionsycr

The fantastic ball grant from the US Rugby Foundation will allow the organization to use the money initially earmarked for the purchase of equipment, i.e. balls, to go towards our scholarships. Our mission is to make sure that cost in not a barrier to participation. With the additional funds we can support additional participants joining and benefitting from our programs. Over the years, the USRF has supplied thousands of size four and five balls to over 1,400 youth and high school rugby teams, schools and community programs. If you like rugby and want to do your part in making it grow in this country, please consider making a tax deductible donation by visiting https://usrugbyfoundation.org/donate/    #growthegame

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