Lifestyle Philanthropy Youth Sports

NFL Veteran JT3 Holds 6th Annual Legends Youth Football Camp This Saturday

This Saturday, July 24th, JT3’s Legends Youth Football Camp returns!

Established by NFL veteran and Fort Lauderdale native J.T. Thomas III, JT3’s annual Legends Youth Football Camp is a free, non-contact football development camp for South Florida children ages 5 to 15. While we took a year off during the pandemic, we’re ready to provide football fun and instruction, starting at 8:00 am to 1:00 pm in Joseph C. Carter Park.

Our focus will be on helping kids understand the fundamentals of safe play, but we’ll also have plenty of time to let our kids play, have fun, and make friends. Each camper will receive a t-shirt and goodie bag, as well as adequate hydration and nutrition during the Camp as well. And as in previous years, our Camp will be hosted by J.T. Thomas III and feature some exciting surprise guests!

This Camp is sponsored by the JT Thomas III Foundation (JTTF), a South Florida-based tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. For more information or to register, visit our event page here. And read further for more information on how you can help support the Camp and the Foundation’s efforts to support South Florida’s youth.

Why South Florida’s Youth Need Support

Our Camp is the epitome of JTTF’s efforts to empower underserved South Florida youth, and we’re excited to bring it back this year. Now that Florida is reopening and we can gather safely again, we must reconnect our children to positive outdoor activities.

For many of those we serve, childhood is tough. Some of the kids who’ve registered and attended previous camps grapple with poverty, deal with food and housing insecurity, navigate under-resourced schools, and contend with early exposure to the justice system. And within the past year, those challenges have become more acute for our region’s families and children.

The numbers are stark: 14 percent of South Florida’s residents and 20 percent of its children live below the poverty line. When you consider single-parent households, which comprise 39 percent of the population, the numbers increase: 29 percent of these households live below the poverty line. And nearly three-quarters of a million minority children live in a home without a single parent with full-time employment.

South Florida residents like myself see, talk to, and work with the kids behind the stats. Too often, they’re thrust into adult situations through no fault of their own. And too often, they lack the kind of support system they need that many of us take for granted. For many kids in South Florida, childhood can be as turbulent as hurricane season during South Florida summers.

How Legends Youth Football Camp Can Help

But for adults who’ve made it, we can often trace our success back to either a single transformative experience or many smaller positive ones that sparked in us the mentality and drive we needed to dream, plan, and achieve. Our achievements are grounded in these moments and experiences: from the practices with the coach who pushed us to work harder than we thought we could; the conference or specialty camp we attended that opened our eyes to new possibilities, or the teachers and family members who encouraged us throughout our studies. 

We strive to provide that kind of life-changing experience through our Camp – an experience that can help kids gravitate towards the positive and away from the negative. Not only do we want our kids to have fun, but we hope to broaden their perspective of the possible. We bring in NFL players and veterans, community leaders, and local student-athletes who help us illustrate what success can look like. And we strive to help our kids make long-lasting friendships and connect with adults who can serve as mentors as well.

We hope our Camp serves as a springboard for kids to join football teams at their own schools. Playing team sports can be game-changing. Not only do you have fun, but you also learn teamwork, dedication, patience, resilience, problem-solving, and leadership. Children and adolescents who play team sports enjoy improved physical health and self-esteem. And sports can provide a constructive outlet and coping mechanism for dealing with stress, anxiety, anger, and aggression.

Adults know that we can manage our daily anxieties through physical activity, goal-setting, and dedicated work. This is a hard-won lesson for many of us. But most kids, especially those dealing with chronic stress from their immediate environment, aren’t self-aware enough or have the resources to independently establish positive coping mechanisms and habits. Football can provide the perfect structure for them to begin to build that self-awareness, establish positive fundamental attributes like discipline and leadership, and grow into the successful adults we know they can be.

How You Can Help

Our annual Legends Youth Football Camp is a powerful event, and we work tirelessly to ensure that participants have a good time, receive high-quality instruction, are kept safe, and have the opportunity to build lasting connections. If you’d like to help us empower South Florida’s youth through our Youth Football Camp, we invite you to join us as a sponsor. Our sponsorship levels can be found here.

But the Camp is just one of the many ways we work to support our region’s children and youth. JTTF also hosts the annual JTTF College Tour, which provides local high school student-athletes with the opportunity to visit colleges, be evaluated by coaches, and position themselves for scholarship opportunities. Many of our participants and even some of their parents have never visited a college before; this tour has been eye-opening and even life-changing for them. We believe all children should have access to the tools, information, connections, and inspiration they need to achieve their goals, and the JTTF College Tour is another vehicle to provide them.

In that spirit, we also offer the Faith Scholarship – a need-based scholarship up to $10,000 to students who’ve earned a minimum 2.5 GPA, completed a minimum of 25 hours of community service, and written an essay. Not only are too many post-graduates burdened with crushing student loan debt, many more either don’t pursue higher education or are forced to leave without earning a degree for financial reasons. The Faith Scholarship helps us ensure that hard-working high school students who’ve cleared the hurdle of getting accepted have the means to get across the finish line.

If you believe that our children need these kinds of structured co-curricular activities that can broaden their perspective and help foster in them attributes like leadership and dedication, join us as a one-time or recurring donor to JTTF. More information can be found here. But we encourage you to connect with us directly. Let’s talk about how we can give South Florida’s children and youth the resources they need and deserve.

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