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Hicks Speaks at Up2Us New Orleans Youth Sports Conference

Posted Jul 12, 2012

Event took place at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Thursday

Defensive Tackle Akiem Hicks was the keynote speaker at the Up2Us New Orleans Youth Sports Conference on Thursday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Up2Us is a national organization operating in all fifty states that hopes to utilize sports as a tool to address critical issues facing American youth. The organization hosted 75 active community members from New Orleans to discuss issues surrounding safety and health of local youth.

The key issues discussed for the New Orleans community included youth violence, high drop-out rates, and childhood obesity. Participants in the conference spent the day sharing and discussing the best practices to make a lasting impact on local youth.

“I enjoyed speaking at the event,” said Hicks. “I am always eager to participate in events that help our youth succeed.”

Up2Us, partnered with Nike, Mercedes-Benz, and the Laureus Foundation, has marked New Orleans as one of its focus cities also including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami. The organization has established a New Orleans Advisory Board consisting of Flint Mitchell of the Greater New Orleans Foundation, Jeremy Boyce of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, Shelly Cayette of the New Orleans Hornets and Jason Trosclair of the New Orleans Saints.

Executive Director of Up2Us Paul Caccamo said that in their national studies, participation in sports also improves on-task performance in the classroom. He announced that Coaches Across America would provide stipends to hire additional youth coaches in the New Orleans Area.

 “We are not going anywhere as long as you will have us,” said Caccamo. “We plan to contribute both coaches and resources to help support local youth sports programs.”

Coaches Across America trains young adults to be coaches in the community and works with established programs to better educate and support their participating children.

Applicants selected to participate in the Coaches Across America program train at the Up2Us Center for Sports Based Youth Development. The Center trains coaches how to “use sports to deliver quality youth development outcomes on topics such as health and nutrition, conflict resolution, academic success and community leadership.”

Coaches Across America requires that the program must serve low income children, use sports as a tool, and have a mission to help kids succeed in the future.

Hicks credits a lot of his success to a coach that stuck by his side even when he struggled.

“I had a coach who believed in me. He helped me get to where I am today,” said Hicks. “It is very important to have the right coach or mentor.”