After having to sit on the sidelines in 2015, kids from the After-School All-Stars South Florida program were able to jump back into the game Saturday at the organization’s SuperFest event.
Thousands of middle-school children from across Miami-Dade County participated in various sports including soccer, flag football and basketball. Kids also DJ’d, jumped in bounce houses and ran all over the intramural fields at Florida International University’s Modesto Maidique Campus, 11200 SW Eighth St.
The organization was unable to host SuperFest due to funding issues but partnered with FoxSports Florida, Sun Sports, Baptist Health, MetroPCS and other groups to bring the event back.
“We got an earful from families and kids to bring it back,” said Natalia Sol, vice president of external relations for ASAS South Florida.
Sol said that the South Florida branch of the national organization, which was founded in 1992 by Arnold Schwarzenegger, focuses on keeping kids occupied and active but uses that in tandem with after-school tutoring so the students are motivated throughout the three hours. The program operates at each school from 3 to 6 p.m.
“After they do their homework and tutoring then they get to have a hour of fitness,” Sol said. “After that, they’re too tired to think about getting into trouble.”
Sol’s husband, Fernando, who attended the event and has volunteered with ASAS South Florida, said that bringing students together from Homestead to Miami Gardens is a great opportunity for kids who often never leave their neighborhoods.
“Just to see how they interact as a group you see it’s important for them,” Fernando Sol said. “Sports brings them together and with all these different cultures, it’s great to see.”
As the event concluded, smiling students received trophies for the various competitions throughout the day and posed for pictures with program managers and coaches.
Jamila Stroman, program manager for Horace Mann Middle, M.A. Milam K-8 Center and Madison Middle, said she hopes ASAS can reach more children but is grateful for the impact they have in underserved and low-income communities.
“Their behavior changes when they become an All-Star,” Stroman said.
And with children and teens falling victim to gun violence across the county, Stroman said ASAS South Florida’s work is more important now than ever before.
“We offer these kids somewhere to be during the most dangerous hours in Miami-Dade County,” Stroman said.