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MARA, getting kids back in the game!


To serve the children of South Bend not involved in sports/recreational activities because: 1) their families could not afford the fees and the equipment; 2) they did not have transportation to practices and games; 3) they felt excluded (because they lacked raw athletic ability and/or the skills that age peers had) and 4) they were not having fun.

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MARA youth sports and recreation partners see youth sports and non-competitive recreational activities, like dance and swimming, as providing children with key “assets” that promote their welfare and development. Sports and recreational activities are unique insofar as they have the potential to promote children’s physical and mental health and foster socio-emotional and moral/citizenship development. 

Whether children realize that potential depends upon whether athletic leaders and coaches deliberately build a compassionate, child-centered culture. MARA is committed to building that culture by mandatory education for all coaches and recreational leaders that prepares coaches to be effective mentors and group leaders

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In June 2019, Play Like a Champion partnered with Beacon Community Impact and youth sports leaders in the Michiana/South Bend community to explore a strategy to improve the health and well-being of youth in South Bend by increasing participation in sports and recreation.   Over 30 organizations gathered over a period and agreed to establish the Michiana Athletic and Recreation Association (MARA) with a vision that every child in the community should be provided the opportunity to play in a safe and supportive environment. The Association’s is a collaborative of youth sports and recreation organizations and community leaders working together to provide safe, fun, supportive and inclusive programming. All children are welcome.  No child is excluded regardless of race, ethnicity, income, or ability. MARA is committed to expanding youth participation in the community and measure its collective impact, so that all kids can get back in the game.

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