08/10/11 — Goldsboro to start challenger football league

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Goldsboro to start challenger football league

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on August 10, 2011 1:46 PM

While the Carolina Panthers spent the better part of July trying to secure a contract with quarterback Cam Newton, the number one pick in this year's NFL draft, the football organization was also selecting cities across the state to receive a grant to help facilitate a youth football league for children with special needs.

Goldsboro Parks and Recreation received word on July 15 that it had been chosen for the $2,500 grant, which Athletic Director Jeffrey Winbush said will help give mentally disabled children an outlet on the gridiron next spring.

Beside the indirect funding from the Panthers, players will have another connection to the team as each participants' uniform will feature a Carolina Panthers jersey.

Recreational Therapist D'Leeshia Lee said that beyond the benefits of physical activity the grant would help the children develop social skills.

"It's great for social interaction. It's great for them to have the asset of teamwork and sportsmanship taught to them," she said. "It's also good for building up their confidence and promotes interaction with others."

The youth league for children ages 9 to 11 will begin next March, with registration running from Feb. 13 until March 2 at Herman Park Center. Games will be played on Saturdays with practices during the week.

Winbush said that the grant is one in high demand at that very few parks and recreation departments receive it since it must involve programs for special needs children. Ms. Lee's position on the staff helped Goldsboro to earn the grant, he said, which will go toward equipment, trophies and field maintenance at the Wayne Early Middle/High School field. He said choosing the centralized location was deliberate so that those passing by could take notice of what was going on there and offer support.

"We wanted to get it in the area where people ride by because we're trying to get this promoted."