Soccer program helps steer vulnerable students toward positive environments


Two-hundred-and-eighty-six high school students in Montgomery County are spinning away with more than new soccer skills at their end-of-season celebration.

Soccer 4 Change is a six-week program that connects vulnerable youth with a soccer team.

“I like to think any youth is vulnerable in some capacity and sort, but there are students out there that need more afterschool support than others, whether they don’t have the resources, the time [or] the family support at home,” said Sara Swarr, employee, Montgomery County Department of Recreation.

The goal is to engage kids in afterschool programs that they might not otherwise be able to afford, keeping them busy and out of trouble.

The program’s success is measurable; according to a Montgomery County Department of Recreation survey, 89 percent of the Soccer 4 Change participants reported it making a positive impact on their behavior in school.

“[We get] a lot of great letters from students, parents and teachers, [saying] that their students have actually shown a change in behavior in school,” Swarr said.

The program is a true commitment, with two practices and one game every week, not to mention special clinics throughout the season.

But, it’s a commitment these students want to make.

“I’m kind of a timid person, but it taught me that there’s more than just working on your own,” said Jahayra Del Cidmorales, Soccer 4 Change participant.

“It helps me to improve my abilities to be a leader,” said Wilson Maradiaga, another Soccer 4 Change participant.

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