The family that plays together, stays together, right? Well, that may not be exactly how the phrase goes but the idea is spot on. With news of childhood (and adult) obesity on the rise, we need to teach our children the benefits of being active & eating right and encourage a healthy lifestyle for all of us. That’s the idea behind Merck Consumer Care’s Active Family Project and their Play for a Change program.
The Active Family Project, which launched in May 2013, aims to inspire families to live a healthy and active life together. Every month, the project spotlights healthy habits and activities, provides tips and information and shares fun games and activities for families to do together. For September, they’ve partnered with U.S. Youth Soccer (USYS) and women’s soccer legend and Olympic gold-medalist Brandi Chastain to spotlight the game of soccer as the month’s fun family activity.
I played soccer as a child and in high school, so I was so excited to have the chance to talk with Brandi recently. She discussed her involvement with the Active Family Project, the benefits soccer can have on kids and adults, and how you can get involved.
Soccer: A Game for Everybody
For Brandi, a member of the 1999 U.S. Women’s World Cup team that won the gold medal on her game-winning penalty kick against China, she knows first-hand the benefits that soccer can have on lives.
“Soccer is a game for everybody. It can be played at any level. And I think it’s really enjoyable,” she said. “It’s not easy but I think over time there’s a lot of fun, a lot of enjoyment…it just makes you feel so good.”
In addition to the health benefits the sport offers, there are real-life skills acquired, too. “Communication. Decisions under pressure. Teamwork. These are three things that I have found invaluable having played soccer and now having a family, building relationships, dealing in business,” Brandi explained. “These are not things that are unique to sports but they truly cross over into everything I do in my life.”
Getting Started With Soccer
Adding soccer to your family’s list of things to do together is easy. All you really need is a soccer ball and a wide open space. Anything can be used for a goal: cones, two trees or even your legs! If you aren’t familiar with the sport, you can go to the Active Family Project website to see tips and advice from Brandi on how to play and even where to find a soccer park in your neighborhood. But the most important thing is that you are getting out there, working up a sweat and having fun TOGETHER.
“When parents get involved they understand what their kids are going through. But I think kids see parents as their role models. And whether they want to admit it or not [kids] love when their parents participate. When I was young and I was playing soccer and we would have the parents against the kids, gosh, it was always just so much fun and so enjoyable.
“I think kids need to see role models in their own household. If parents can get involved, they can be active, they can go out to the field with their kids, not only are they getting healthy themselves, but they’re showing really good examples to their kids.”
Brandi and the Active Family Project
A participant in USYS as a child, Brandi is now an advocate for the positive benefits soccer can have on young people’s lives. That’s the reason she chose to be involved with the Active Family Project.
“When I heard about Merck’s Active Family Project, I realized that Play for a Change is what I do every day. I get out of bed [and] I’m involved with soccer. I’m passionate about it. I have a family of my own with two boys and want to not only be a living example [for them] but I want to help other families and other communities across this country to enjoy the luxury that I’ve been able to get out of soccer. And having been with US Youth Soccer as a young person I love that they’re involved to…impact others’ lives in a positive way.”
Play for a Change
This month, Merck will be donating a minimum of 75 soccer kits—filled with balls, cones, goals and other essential soccer equipment—to USYS. Those kits will then go to kids and families in underserved communities across the country to help them get involved in the game. But with our help, they can do even more. For every 100 likes, shares or comments by users on the Active Family Project Facebook page this month, we can help provide an additional 50 soccer kits to be donated.
“By going on to Facebook, going to Active Family and “liking” it, you can impact another family across this country. The more people that like and make comments, the more communities that will be impacted,” said Brandi.
“Being active changes people’s lives in such a positive way. I’m glad that soccer’s involved. I’m glad that I’m involved and I know that this is a wonderful project for families across our country.”
Click here to see my full interview with soccer-legend Brandi Chastain.