San Juan del Sur Sports Park 2018
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua is an international tourist destination nestled in a cove on the southwest pacific coast. With tourism comes new avenues for economic development. However, there are negative social and environmental impacts from tourism as well, like increased prostitution, drugs, and a pervasive sense of permanent vacation. The lure of the “easy life” causes some young people to drop out of school and form unhealthy habits.
Participation in youth sports is known to decrease the likelihood of cigarette smoking, heart disease, and diabetes, in addition to Improved academic achievement, post-secondary education, and higher income. Our Youth Sports program promotes healthy lifestyles in rural communities and provides a safe and structured environment for young people to participate in sports-related activities. Through soccer, baseball, and basketball leagues and clinics, participating youth develop positive leadership and team-building skills and are encouraged to give back to their communities.
Alejandro Noguera is a local sports legend in San Juan del Sur and has served as Director of Youth Development since program inception in 2006. In this role, Alejandro manages leagues, hires referees and scorekeepers, while collaborating with the mayor’s office, local businesses, and area schools. The Sports Park is a true public-private partnership with the municipal government paying for the lights, CC managing the year-round activities, and private donations covering the overhead. Our collective resources sponsor over 500 young athletes each year, and since we opened in 2006, those kids have played over 5,000 games.
Most of our programs are centered around children. They are among the most vulnerable populations of every community, and we believe a better future depends upon their welfare. As we extend our program to include more rural communities, we seek to create more opportunities for female athletes as well. We aspire to do so by connecting athletes and sports programs in the USA with teams and players in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Our new baseball academy in San Juan del Sur is a result of this kind of global collaboration.
Friends and family gathered to watch the action
We fully recognize that not all young people are competitive athletes. In fact, there are many children living with disabilities that struggle to access basic recreation due to their physical and mental challenges. Schools lack resources for students with special needs and exclude them from the classroom. Parents do not always have the resources and knowledge to care for their children with special needs. We know this because we see it firsthand through our program in Los Robles, Nicaragua called Together For Health.
Our Together For Health patients cannot access school and recreation because of their medical conditions. Their parents are on call 24/7, which keeps them from steady employment and economic independence. These are the primary reasons Comunidad Connect is building the Los Robles Community Wellness Center. Physical therapy, educational enrichment, nutrition, and emotional support will be available for those individuals and families who need it most. Stayed tuned for more on the Los Robles Community Wellness Center.