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Home > News > Impact Study Results are In!

Impact Study Results are In!

Overview of Program

In 2011, the Corporation for National and Community Service awarded the U.S. Soccer Foundation a prestigious Social Innovation Fund grant to expand its Soccer for Success program. Soccer for Success is the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s innovative youth development program that uses soccer as a tool to combat childhood obesity and promote healthy lifestyles for children in low-income urban communities. Soccer for Success operates as an afterschool program offered at no cost to participants. The U.S. Soccer Foundation has partnered with the Independent Health Foundation, Buffalo Soccer Club, Algonquin Sports, and the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County to operate and evaluate the impact of Soccer for Success locally. The program operates throughout the City of Buffalo, providing children in grades K-8 with free after-school programming 4.5 hours per week for 12 week sessions.

Reach & Demographics

Since its inception in 2011, Soccer for Success has served 1,440 children through 29 different after school program sites. Students come from 27 zip codes and over 120 elementary and middle schools (public, private, and charter). Almost 89% of the students that participate in Soccer for Success are eligible for free or reduced lunches.

Evaluation Overview and Results

Summary

During the 2013-2014 Soccer for Success program year, the U.S. Soccer Foundation contracted with a third part evaluator to measure the health impacts of the program in Buffalo. The evaluation was conducted by Healthy Networks Design & Research, an evaluation firm with vast experience in children’s health programs, specifically programs designed to combat childhood obesity.

The evaluation compared the difference in health outcomes of children participating in Soccer for Success and children from the same neighborhoods and schools who also participated in after school programming but not in Soccer for Success. 61 children were monitored in the Soccer for Success program throughout the 2013 and 2014 seasons, and 56 children were monitored in the comparison group. The following sites were observed:

  • Babcock Boys and Girls Club
  • Butler Boys and Girls Club
  • Elmwood Village Charter (Soccer for Success Site)
  • JFK Recreation Center @ Lanigan
  • Masten Clubhouse (Soccer for Success Site)
  • PS 54 Blackman (Soccer for Success Site)
  • William C. Baird Clubhouse (Soccer for Success Site)

Outcomes

The study found that Soccer for Success participants in Buffalo, NY improved health outcomes significantly more than children enrolled in other after school programming. Improvements were made with regards to weight status (BMI percentile) and fitness (PACER score).

BMI is the most common measurement associated with monitoring the health of a child. BMI percentile accounts for body fat changes by age and gender. On average, children enrolled in Soccer for Success improved their BMI percentile by 2.7 percentage points, compared to children enrolled in other after school programming, who worsened their BMI percentile by 1.1 percentage points.

Aerobic capacity or fitness, measured through the PACER test, is an indicator of a child’s endurance and heart strength. The PACER Test tracks the number of laps completed between beeps. As the test progresses, the time between beeps shortens. On average, children enrolled in Soccer for Success improved by 5 more completed laps than children enrolled in other programs. 


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