The Philadelphia Union Foundation this week kicked off a free soccer camp in Chester for children aged 15 and under.

The week-long camp opened Monday, Aug. 3, and runs through Friday, Aug. 7, at the S.T.E.M. Soccer Fields, where youth will enjoy instruction, skills development and game play.

“Supporting the community is at the forefront of our organization and we are so proud to offer this soccer camp free of charge to the kids,” said Union CEO and Operating Partner, Nick Sakiewicz. “Through this camp, we aim to bring a week of joy to their lives through soccer and give them the gift of this wonderful sport. Soccer is a sport that can ignite the passion in children and we hope we can accomplish that with this camp.”

Powered by the Philadelphia Union Foundation and Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer, the William Trippley Youth Development Foundation, WTYDF, is the non-profit organization directly serving Chester youth through their work in the community.

By providing at-risk youth educational experiences, non-violence awareness programming, and utilizing soccer as a tool for development, WTYDF introduces youth to resources needed to rise above the conventional path of their peers.

The William Trippley Youth Foundation was named for 20-year-old Trippley, who was violently shot and killed on Easter Sunday in 2004. At the time of his death, the popular student and soccer standout was a member of the Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association boy’s team that won a United States Olympic National Championship in 2002. He had played for the Shipley School and was a star in the Keystone Athletic Conference before his death.

The Foundation now serves more than 300 children between the ages of 3 to 15 who live in Chester. Aside from being the only youth soccer organization in the city, the program provides children access to tutoring programs, family activities and events, scholarships, personal mentors and camps like the one taking place this week.

“We have been doing this camp for at least nine years,” said Trippley’s mother and co-founder of Chester City United, Patricia Trippley Demiranda. “We have 100 children playing the game of soccer at our camp. With the help of the Chester Water Authority, Chester Fire Department and the Chester Department of Recreation, we are able to take care of our children.”

From 9 a.m. until 12 p.m., attendees of the camp will be introduced to elements of WTYDF’s year-round soccer program and team, Chester City United.

“The Chester City United Summer Soccer Camp gives children the chance to play soccer in a safe environment in a way that is convenient to our families in the city,” said Union´s Senior Vice President of Club Development and Executive Director of the Philadelphia Union Foundation Rick Jacobs. “This week, youth at all skill levels will get the chance to play, receive coaching and learn life´s values through sport. We are excited to provide this opportunity to the community.”

The Philadelphia Union, the Union Foundation and WTYDF have partnered on several projects in recent years.

The Trippley Foundation has collaborated with Widener University, the Philadelphia Union Foundation, Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association, and Crozer Keystone Health System to present an after-school program that combines regular physical activity (90-minutes) soccer practice and skill-building sessions, three times a week, with nutrition education.

Known as the Chester Upland Soccer for Success program, a U.S. Soccer Foundation initiative, the collaboration is an innovative youth development program, that uses soccer as a tool to combat childhood obesity and promote healthy lifestyles, targeting children in under-resourced urban communities.

Now in its third year, Chester Upland Soccer for Success has produced very positive health results.

Of the 383 children participating in the program in the fall of 2014, 79 percent improved or maintained their body mass index percentile, 73 percent improved or maintained their aerobic capacity, and 52 percent decreased or maintained waist circumference.

“After he was killed, myself and some of his best friends wanted to do something to keep his legacy open,” said Trippley Demiranda. “I don’t do my work in this community for anything in return. I do it because I love the kids and want to teach them the game of soccer.”

In addition to sports and physical education related programming, WTYDF recently held a camp to support and nurture youth who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

Camp Encouragement offered its participants an opportunity to heal, grow and encouragement to live a more fulfilling life.

Families still interested in participating in the Chester City United Summer Soccer Camp can register by visiting wtydf.org or calling (610) 872-2617.

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