In an annual event that has impacted youth throughout Southeastern Louisiana, the New Orleans Saints have once again partnered with the United Way for the ninth annual Saints/United Way Community Patrol camps at the team's indoor practice facility in Metairie, La.
Between June 19th and June 26th, six separate one-day camps will take place. Over 600 local children between the ages of 9-13 will benefit from this safe, fun and educational experience.
"For the past nine years the New Orleans Saints and United Way have teamed up to host camps for the children of Orleans, Jefferson and five other neighboring parishes that we proudly call 'our home field'," said New Orleans Saints Owner/Chairman of the Board Tom Benson. "Each year we gladly interact and make a positive impact on the lives of over 600 children and introduce them to the benefits of safe, fun, exciting and educational experiences. We believe that the programs we have implemented through our Youth Programs Department and United Way help to improve attitudes and encourage positive behaviors among the participants."
Over 100 children from St. Tammany Parish traveled from across the lake to participate in the first session on Tuesday. The group was compiled of children involved in the Boys and Girls Clubs of Covington and Slidell as well as various religious youth groups from the northshore.
The children were able to visit the Saints facility for a fun day both on and off the field at the same location the Black-and-Gold train. After being split into several groups, the children were led to different stations by volunteers and interns from Loyola University, Louisiana State University, Tulane University, and the University of Southern Mississippi under the direction of the Saints Youth Programs and Community Affairs departments.
The stations included multiple football drills on offense and defense, a chance to use an Elmwood Mobile Fitness Unit from Elmwood Fitness Center, and a discussion led by The Children's Bureau. The children also received visits by Saints Punter Thomas Morstead, Running Back Mark Ingram, and NBA prospect Anthony Davis.
The Children's Bureau is a United Way partner that aims to improve the quality of life for children and families. This morning's conversation focused on the importance of emotional control and anger management. They taught lessons on coping, building support, and being a team player while being in control of your actions.
Lan Huynh, Resource Development Associate with the United Way, believes that the children in attendance were more receptive to the message because of the fun events that took place in conjunction with the session. The event looks to help improve behavior while still maintaining the children's attention.
"We gather over 600 kids in seven parishes to educate and provide an opportunity to improve behavior and attitude towards life and have them come out in a positive way," said Huynh.
"Excellence in both the classroom and on the field goes hand in hand, which is something our players show all the time in their achievements as living proof," said Saints Director of Youth Programs Jason Trosclair. "These camps are a great opportunity for us to teach and instill some of these same football skills and life skills at the same time."