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Mayor Carstarphen Announces Camden Athletic & Health Program To Promote Youth Sports and Health

Mayor Carstarphen Announces Camden Athletic & Health Program To Promote Youth Sports and Health


CAMDEN, NJ – Mayor Victor Carstarphen, Camden County Commissioner Al Dyer, City Councilpersons Marilyn Torres, Angel Fuentes, Shelia Davis & Chris Collins, Superintendent Katrina McCombs, Woodrow Wilson High School Staff and Students and the City’s Department of Human Services held a press conference on Friday, September 24th at 1:00 p.m. in the Woodrow Wilson High School Gymnasium (3100 Federal St, Camden, NJ 08105) in East Camden to announce a new City imitative supporting youth sports and health.

The City of Camden unveiled the new initiative designed to fund, facilitate, and support youth sports programs and health. The City, under the auspices of the Mayor and the Department of Human Services, will develop an infrastructure plan and work to constitute an advisory board to provide visioning and programmatic advice for this initiative. In his First 100 Days & Beyond Plan, Mayor Victor Carstarphen highlighted that fact that Camden is one of the youngest cities on a per capita basis and the importance of ensuring the city’s youth have access to athletic activities that positively shape their futures.

“Youth sports are foundational to building a vibrant, healthy, and sustainable community,” said Mayor Victor Carstarphen. “During these challenging times, the importance of engaging and keeping Camden’s youth on the sports field has proven to be an irreplaceable vehicle to ensure their safety and health.”

The non-profit Camden Health and Athletic Association (CHAA) took the first steps for the past few years in coordinating various existing sports programs in the city for the city’s youth, working with individual and community organizations throughout the City, but it is clear that as a city, Camden is now more than ever in a unique place to support and grow and nurture organized youth programs.

The former executive director to the nonprofit, CHAA, Commissioner Al Dyer, talked about the impact this program will have on the children and students of Camden City.

“As a native son of this city I can tell you this is the next phase of growth in youth recreation for our kids,” Dyer said. “The Mayor and I have talked constantly about giving our children sound bodies and minds and now we can deliver on that vision with a robust program that brings all youth recreation back under one roof. We’ve also talked about delivering access and opportunity to everyone that wants to play a sport like children in the suburbs have and I believe this new initiative will do just that. Moving forward, the objective will be to take full advantage of some of the many investments that have been made to recreational infrastructure already in the city and fill them with as many kids as possible.”

Mayor Carstarphen went on to say, “For the first time, Camden is seeing significant investment in its parks and youth facilities, something that has not happened in decades. The City has played a pivotal role in coordinating capital improvements at various parks and sports facilities. Similarly, the City can and should play a leadership role as it pertains to organized youth sports, working with existing individual volunteers, coaches and organizations who are currently running community sports organizations.’

The City’s new Camden Athletic & Health Program will allow for the allocation of public resources, while leveraging philanthropic support, and providing specific coordinating and operational support to ensure the continued and growing success of youth sports. Critical to the successful design and implementation of this initiative is a community driven approach, where community members are represented, organizers of existing and new sports programs that cater to boys and girls have a say in programmatic and investment decisions. Therefore, it is envisioned that the initiative will be led by the City, but driven with input from residents and the youth sports community writ large. To that end, an advisory board will be created to provide advice to the City on investment, coordination, and programmatic matters. However, this initiative cannot be just about sports. It must also be about ensuring the safety and health of our youth.

Using this initiative as a vehicle, the City will ensure that the 18,000 plus school aged children in the city are healthy – mentally and physically. Camden will work with the organizers, teams, coaches, after school programs and community groups to provide education regarding proper nutrition and the importance of leading active and healthy lives. In addition, the City will work with health care institutions like Cooper University Health Care, Virtua, CAMcare and others to provide sports physicals for youth athletes and other health education for the athletes and families.

“The Camden City School District applauds and supports Mayor Carstarphen’s effort to streamline and enhance recreational athletic opportunities for all children across our great city,” said Katrina T. McCombs, Superintendent of Camden Schools. After more than a year of limited youth athletic activities in the city, this initiative will help support and nurture the environment our children need in order to grow athletically. Our students across this district deserve these opportunities that are afforded to other children across the state. This level of equity is a down payment for the future success and health of all children in our care across the City of Camden.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply and disproportionally impacted communities of color. However, the progress the city has seen in the last decade is beginning to turn decades of disinvestment; new parks, schools, and businesses all are indicators of a positive change in the direction of the city. The Camden Athletic & Health Program will offer a new opportunity to invest in and contribute to the critical area of youth development. For more information about the Camden Athletic & Health Program and Mayor Carstarphen’s First 100 Days & Beyond Plan please visit: 

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