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Woody Johnson Helps Bring Youth Football To Harlem


Woody Johnson Helps Bring Youth Football To Harlem

Woody Johnson Helps Bring Youth Football To Harlem

New York Jets Owner Woody Johnson joined New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Congressman Charles Rangel and others last Tuesday to announce a $200,000 grant which will support the creation of a new football field in Harlem River Park. But, the event was about much more than refurbishing a football field, it was about the revitalization of an entire community.

"Our kids cannot live by brick and mortar," said Congressman Rangel. "We need a place for our children to breathe clean air, to enjoy themselves and to become the anchors of a community."

Seated in the crowd was the local football team from the nearby Abyssinian Church as well as children from a local community center. They represented the dozens of constituencies who will benefit from Harlem Park's restoration.

Parks Commissioner Benepe said that "this will be the only full service athletic field in East Harlem that can accommodate a full size football field on it. The Jets, along with the MTA, gave a very handsome gift to make this possible."

Rangel added, "Woody Johnson is a guy that doesn't have to do these things, but he is a guy who takes NYC and the community seriously. He not only talks about creating opportunities, he also puts the money up so that we can do it. In partnership with the MTA, the great city of New York, and the leadership of Mayor Bloomberg, we are moving forward."

The grass football field in Harlem River Park will be replaced with synthetic turf, thanks to a $200,000 grant from the New York Jets and the National Football League' Grassroots program. The new turf will extend football programs into winter, spring and summer from the current three-month autumn schedule.

"Football is hard work," said Johnson. "It is about building a team and understanding the meaning of team work. Those are the lessons you learn in football and that is why the New York Jets are so excited to be a part of this and so many other projects throughout the tri-state area to promote youth football. I know we will all be very proud of this field and everything it offers to the community."

The grant is part of $1.5 million in new awards that the program will make to rehabilitate fields in 11 cities. The NFL Grassroots Program is part of the NFL Youth Football Fund, a $150 million fund established by the NFL and the NFL Players Association to support youth football initiatives in numerous ways. Since 1998, the program has provided nearly $10 million in grants and helped community organizations rebuild 100 football fields in more than 40 depressed urban neighborhoods.

The Grassroots Program is a joint venture among the NFL, NFLPA and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the country's leading community development support organization. The NFL, NFLPA and LISC identify local non-profit, neighborhood-based agencies in each city, which are provided with financing and technical assistance to improve the quality and safety of football fields in their local schools, parks and neighborhoods. The local groups then oversee the construction, maintenance, and programming of the fields.

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