Opportunity spotlight: Sports for non-Olympians

The 2012 Olympic Games kick off today! Though few of us will live the dream today and compete, there are lots of other ways to get involved in some healthy athletic competition while making the world a better place.

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Not an Olympic champion? No worries. You can still become a great athlete and give back!

Good Sports partners with local sporting good manufacturers to provide athletic equipment, footwear, and apparel to disadvantaged youth across the country, lowering the cost of participation in activities that might otherwise be inaccessible. Besides the obvious benefits of an active lifestyle, “kids who participate in sports enjoy better nutritional awareness and improved self-esteem.  What’s more, these kids are 57% less likely to drop out of school, 49% less likely to take drugs, and 37% less likely to become teen parents.” They’ve provided over $6.5 million in equipment to more than 400,000 young athletes to date. They’re looking for an intern, so if you’re in Quincy, MA, interested in the sports industry, and want to support a great cause, check out them out!

Coaching Corps trains college students to be volunteer coaches in after-school programs in California. The organization also develops and promotes best practices in youth sports and after-school programming and advocates for public and private support and investment in youth sports for low-income communities. They’re currently looking for thirty people to join their AmeriCorps program. You’d do some coaching yourself, help recruit volunteers, and receive lots of training in youth services.

The Union Settlement Association knows it’s never too late to promote fitness. They’re seeking a volunteer Exercise Leader for older adults. The organization works with a predominantly immigrant population in East Harlem, serving over 13,000 residents every year. Their programs include education, childcare, nutrition, senior services, counseling, the arts, job training, and economic development. The exercise leader would get older residents excited about physical activity by running a weekly fitness class that caters to a range of mobility levels. If you’ve got an hour to spare every week, share your passion and motivate some older folks to stay healthy!

And, of course, there is the Special Olympics. With nearly 4 million athletes around the world, the Special Olympics is the largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities in the world. Over fifty local chapters are listed on Idealist, and they hold events year round. Check out opportunities near you to work with these remarkable athletes.

Know any other great opportunities to get involved in athletics? Have a great sports story to share? Tell us about it!

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