Luis Ortiz is patient with a girl who insists the size of the boot she’s wearing is her correct size and not the size shown on the shoe measurement tool she rests her foot on.
“Your boot might be one size,” Ortiz explains, “but every shoe is different, and we want to be sure your shoes fit you right.”
Ortiz and Kaelyn Jones, his colleague at the Nike Factory Store in the Philadelphia Premium Outlets in Limerick, were at YWCA Tri-County Area one recent Tuesday afternoon measuring children for their shoe sizes as part of the Nike Community Ambassador Program, in which store employees as part of their work day provide sports, physical activity, and mentoring programming for kids in the community. The store recently had donated more than 40 pair of shoes and two boxes of clothing to YW’s after-school program, and the children were being matched with the available shoes.
Building positive relationships and empowering kids to stay active is the goal of the Nike Ambassador Program. Each Tuesday afternoon, Ortiz and one of his co-workers – knows as “athletes” – visit YW’s after-school program, for children in kindergarten through sixth grade, for a few hours of games and sports.
“Our goal is to build a long-term rapport with the kids,” Ortiz said. “We want to get the kids active, we want them to have fun, and we want to make sure everyone can participate.”
The Nike Community Ambassador Program is a nationwide effort to connect Nike employees with children in their communities. The company allows its employees to schedule volunteer time as part of their work day; for every hour volunteered, Nike gives employees $10 to donate to the cause of their choice.
Ken Trusty, a coach at YW’s after-school program, said the children look forward to the Nike athletes’ visits.
“The kids love it,” Trusty said. “They ask every day: ‘Is today Nike day?’”
In addition to sports and physical activity with the after-school program, Nike’s athletes also meet regularly with YW’s Great Girls Today program for girls in grades 4-6, and will offer movement and fitness sessions at YW’s All.Girl! Leadership and Wellness Convention in April 2020, which brings girls in grades 3-12 together for a day of learning and empowerment.
YWCA Tri-County Area is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. YW3CA is a leader in advocacy for women and girls, works to eliminate racism, and empowers women through quality affordable childcare, adult literacy, and a host of programs to support the health and vitality of women, girls, and families.