Don’t tell the opposition, but beneath that rugged, intimidating exterior, our Atlanta Falcons have a soft side. Since 1985, the NFL team has been working to reduce childhood obesity and improve the fitness levels of Georgia’s kids through the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation (AFYF). The philanthropic arm of the Falcons has dished out more than $20 million to nonprofits that share its mission of making kid healthier by increasing their physical activity and access to healthy, affordable food. Along the way, they helped more than 10,000 kids lose over 44,000 pounds of body fat in a single year. Take that, Biggest Loser.
Making green-screened kids fitness videos starring a dude in a Freddie Falcon mascot costume is pretty fantastic, especially given the custom hip-hop-inspired soundtrack, but believe it or not, it’s far from the most impressive thing the Youth Foundation does.
In July, AFYF and Good Sports donated $35,000 worth of athletic equipment to help promote healthy lifestyles in Atlanta’s Westside neighborhoods. The dynamic duo first paired up in 2010 and have since provided equipment donations worth $625,000 to 128 different groups in 43 counties across Georgia. The most recent haul — everything from hula hoops, agility ladders, and yoga mats to basketballs, baseball gloves, and first-aid kits — went to L.E.A.D. Inc., Cosmopolitan AME Church, Urban Perform, After School All-Stars, The City of Refuge, KIPP WAYS Academy, Beltline Bikes, and Raising Expectations. Nonprofits have until December 5 to apply for the next cycle of grants, and donations are always welcome if you’re out to Do Well for healthy kids.
Earlier this year the Falcons Youth Foundation awarded a$125,000 grant to help increase youth football programming across Georgia. That’s what you call thinking ahead, right there. The money went toward supporting flag football programs and training youth football coaches, players, and parents on safe tackling techniques and proper equipment fitting. Kids & Pros will use the grant to reach 4,000 young athletes, 2,000 parents, and 500 coaches.