ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJLA) - A Washington, D.C. area nonprofit is taking used sports gear and putting it in the hands of children who would otherwise have to sit out because their parents can't afford the proper sporting equipment.
Leveling the Playing Field provides soccer balls, shin guards and other equipment to the City of Rockville's Latino Youth Program. The nonprofit was founded by 25-year-old Max Levitt who has the goal of keeping children on the playing field and out of the streets.
"One in five underprivileged households aren't getting involved in sports," Levitt said. "Kids who participate in youth sports are 60 percent less likely to drop out of school."
And if they can't play sports, then they run the risk of spending their time in front of the television or playing video games, said Mariella Correal, community service outreach coordinator for the City of Rockville.
Donations for the youth come from sport programs at the University of Maryland, Towson University, the Washington Redskins as well as area families. Some 30 youth sports programs have benefited from the 4,000 pieces of equipment passed along to the players through Leveling The Playing Field.
Sometimes, even the professional players stop in during the youth program's practice and give the players some pointers-on the game itself and on the game of life.
DC United soccer player Jalen Robinson is one of those players.
"(It's) always a good time to helper younger kids, because ten years ago, I was in their shoes," Robinson said while visiting the team.
The players said it's good to see a player like Robinson visiting them because he is an inspiration to them.
"They'll look up to this guy and say, 'wow.' He's saying the same stuff our teachers are telling us,'" Levitt said.