The way to the heart is through teamwork, and what a representation in Camden. July 8th and 9th Siloam Wellness and Aetna Better Health Kids hosted their first 'Sweat In, Sweat Out Lineman and Skills' Football Camp. Presented by Camden City Youth Sports Association (CCYSA), offered the free opportunity in Camden to all Philly and Jersey students age 6-18 with NFL stars, local coaches and volunteers to make it great.
"Hardwork on three...one...two...three. HARDWORK !!! " The huddle broke and kids scattered for routes, drills and positions. The excitement and determination were palpable. We were able to catch up with CAMDEN CITY YOUTH SPORTS ASSOCIATION founder, Bill Wallace. "The turnout is great, better than we expected. The volunteers are what I'm most proud of; we've got 30 men and women that dedicated their time for today and tomorrow - so that's real big and truly appreciated. The kids are working hard at every station, every age group, they're just pushing each other to be better and that's what it's all about. The name of the camp is 'Sweat In, Sweat Out' and they are living up to the title of the name. We appreciate everybody that came out - bigger and better things next year. Thankyou. "
Sarina DiBianca, Executive Director of Siloam Wellness, spoke to the kids about the importance of emotional, physical, and mental health and staying connected to their coaches as available support systems. She encouraged the kids to stay healthy, to listen to their families, to their coaches and to be good. Sarina and Siloam have provided wellness for the HIV community and has helped the youth to stay healthy, with HIV prevention, physically, and emotionally, for years and is always present to cheer them on and help in any way. She works effortlessly and pools her resources to come through for the kids all year. She worked with Aetna Better Health to sponsor this event and provided a fun day for the kids, awesome camp summer bags containing water bottles, socks, sunblock, lip balm and more, but most of all TLC.
Awesome work by all. There were so many coaches on hand it was amazing. Coaches reminded the kids to be the best that they could be on the field, and in school. In talking with Coach Hawkins and Coach Kolb, we were able to see the true greatness of sports' ability to bring unity and community. The energy on the field was loyal royal and beyond what most call teamwork. It was truly an honor to witness the cultivation of strong spirit, sports, and skills. NFL stars were on hand to give back to their community and expressed one of the best things about making it to the professional level is coming back to give back to the youth. Nithin Ramachandra joined Kia Lyons to interview players and coaches for NR HOUR SPORTS. NFL Brad Hawkins of the New England Patriots was honored to speak to the kids on consistency and 'doing the right things'. He's a firm believer of always doing the right thing, and always has done the right thing. "School is very important to me, my family is very important to me, and helping people like you guys is very important to me. Be consistent. Do something you love and get better at it. If you're struggling on the ladders or the cones, I expect you to be better at it tomorrow. When you get better at something, that's how the coaches know you're paying attention to detail and doing the right thing. Doing the right thing will take you a long way, I promise you. You don't have to be the most talented, you don’t have to be the best on the field, just effort at doing what you're supposed to be doing. I'm telling you it will take you a long way". Hawkins expressed such gratitude to be given this opportunity to come back to receive all this support from the city; a blessing being from Camden and just so appreciative and glad to be there. A true leader.
NFL free agent, Sean Chandler, shared with the kids how proud he was of them and their
work. He admired the field that they all have been given when he lived and played on that field it was made of rocks. He encouraged the kids to stay motivated always. The kids were thrilled to hear of all his NFL teamwork experience, and to have his attention and personal support. He handed out NFL gifts and camp awards as well. They all beamed when he asked for their input especially their favorite teams. Relatability and encouragement through mentorship, truly are keys to success of the next generation.
Another stand-out speaker and camp coach was Kurtis Huff, who plays with the Iowa Barnstormers in the IFL, Indoor Football League. He shared his inspiring personal story and the crowed hushed in compassion and respect. To lose a mother and grandmother upon entering pro-football and carry on with courage and strength was astounding. He draws love and strength from his story to inspire connection, trust and faith from the next generation. "Everybody wants to get to high school, to college, to the NFL, but you got to put in the...WHAT? " The crowd shouts WORK. " The what ?" WORK! "You gotta put in the work. Hard work beats talent, where talent fails to work hard." He continued to inspire with his early days and nights all filled with work to make his dreams happen.
Camden mayor, Vic Carstarphen, was there to encourage and cheer on the youth. It was an honor to hear him speak on the heart of Camden's community, it's family oriented programs and welcomeness, great advancements and how legacies of a lifetime run deep within its hope, history, and the current generations. Camden City Councilman Chris Collins spoke on the importance of teamwork, and as former Camden coach and field president, CFL coach and member of the NFL Retired Players Association, highlighted the business of sports and beyond.
The teamwork by all at this community camp was exemplary, like family. Incredible time and memories for all. Can't wait for football season as well as next years camp. See you then.
Kia Lyons is a sports co-host and writer for the NR HOUR SPORTS SHOW, and PLATINUM COLLECTION. KIA LIONS HEART represents brand development in pro sports and entertainment; HIGH PERFORMANCE CONSULTING, showcases struggle-to-success stories to motivate and inspire unity.