18 June, 2016
Playing a sport can help children in many ways. But poor children often cannot play sports because their families do not have the money to buy the equipment their children need.
Max Levitt wanted to change that. He had worked in college athletics and youth sports. These experiences helped him find a solution to the problem.
Levitt created a group called Leveling the Playing Field four years ago. The non-profit organization collects used sports equipment and gives it to children who need it. Levitt says no child should be unable to play a sport because they cannot pay for the equipment.
"I played every sport. I was lucky enough that my family could afford to give me that opportunity. But it bothers me that there are thousands and thousands of kids every day who are unable to play sports because of the cost. And that is really sad."
Play with it again
Levitt says he saw a huge waste of sporting equipment in America. He says every year much of the sporting equipment that teams used in the previous season is thrown away.
So Levitt started collecting used equipment and storing it in his parents' home. Now, he keeps it in a 370-square-meter space in a storage building. The boxes and shelves are filled with about $1.5 million worth of sports equipment -- including baseball gloves, hockey skates, golf clubs and more.
Levitt says sports can help children lead healthier lifestyles.
"This country's having a very hard time with, with, with healthy, healthy living -- especially in our low-income areas. It's become a major issue where a lot of kids who are struggling to stay fit."
Jerome Clemons is a soccer coach at a program called DC SCORES, a non-profit group that gives free classes after school. Clemons says playing sports is important for children.
"It helps you build character. It teaches you about teamwork. It gives them the opportunity to do activities after school rather than get in trouble."
Leveling the Playing Field has given more than $1.4 million worth of sporting equipment to 300 programs in and near Washington, DC. It has helped more than 100,000 children.
Levitt says his organization could not succeed without the help of volunteers. He and one other person are the group's only paid workers. He says more than 500 people volunteered for the group last year. He says "we rely heavily on the community. We have people come in here and sort out equipment for us [and] people run collection drives for us."
Levitt says he wants to bring his organization to other cities to give every child a chance to play sports.
I'm Christopher Jones-Cruise.
VOA Correspondent June Soh reported this story from Washington. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section, or visit our 51VOA.COM.
Words in This Story
solution – n. something that is used or done to deal with and end a problem; something that solves a problem
used – adj. having been used before; having had a previous owner; not new
afford – v. to be able to pay for (something)
bother – v. to cause (someone) to feel troubled, worried or concerned
fit – adj. physically healthy and strong
character – n. the good qualities of a person that usually include moral or emotional strength, honesty and fairness
teamwork – n. the work done by people who work together as a team to do something
rely – v. to need (someone or something) for support, help, etc.; to depend on (someone or something)
sort out – phrasal verb to look at things and put them in a particular order especially while you are searching for something
collection drive – n. expression an effort made by a group of people to achieve a goal, to collect money, etc.