(PRWEB) May 23, 2013
The Pittsburgh Riverhounds took to the field yesterday to share their soccer talents with special needs children as they hosted the Watson Institute’s inaugural Special Kick Clinic at the new Highmark Stadium in Station Square. Approximately 100 children with special needs and their siblings participated in the inaugural event.
In addition to the Riverhounds pro team, members of The Riverhounds Academy youth development program, Central Valley High School Boys and Girls Varsity Soccer Teams, Point Park University Women’s Soccer Team and Carlow University Women’s Soccer Team, as well as other volunteers helped the children engage and enjoy this unique experience.
“It was a great opportunity and I would definitely enjoy doing it again,” said Stephen Crnkovich, a clinic volunteer and member of the boy’s varsity soccer team at Central Valley High School. “It was nice to interact with the children and an overall fantastic experience.”
Sponsors, such as Highmark, Trib Total Media, #1 Cochran, Clockwise Tees, Keytex Energy, Clayton Kendall Promotional Marketing, Shearers, and Pepsi, added to a joyful day of a real team experience for the children during the Special Kick Clinic.
The afternoon began with a short exhibition by the Riverhounds, followed by soccer-specific stations led by the Riverhounds pro team. Drills were carefully adapted to the needs of each child.
While the clinic was taking place, parents and caregivers were able to participate in Watson’s Ask the Experts Café located in the beautiful Highmark Stadium Banquet Facility, catered by Sodexo, where they could talk with professional consultants of The Watson Institute about various topics on special education and promoting positive behaviors at home.
“I attended the Special Kick Clinic with my 5-year old daughter and we had an amazing time! Everyone was wonderful and the Riverhounds players were truly amazing with her and all the kids” said Heather Garry, parent of a Special Kick Clinic participant.
The Watson Institute and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds have long-term plans to continue the Special Kick Clinic annually. “Highmark Stadium was built to make a positive impact in the community, brokering impactful opportunities for the many smiling faces of Western Pennsylvania,” said Jason Kutney, CEO of the Riverhounds. “The Riverhounds feel humbled to work with The Watson Institute, utilizing our talents and resources to create tremendous memories for special children who truly live life to its fullest. I want to thank our professional players, members of The Riverhounds Academy, and players from future Highmark Stadium user groups such as Point Park University and Carlow University, for making today a success.”
Following the success of this year’s clinic, both the Riverhounds and The Watson Institute are eager to pass along the initiative to other professional soccer teams across the US in hopes to expand this clinic model throughout the country. “Our goal today was to create an experience where children with special needs could participate in the game of soccer to the best of their ability,” said Ray White, CEO of The Watson Institute. “Being able to do that with a professional soccer team at a beautiful new stadium is an added bonus. We are grateful to the Riverhounds organization and Highmark Stadium for partnering with us in this endeavor. We have demonstrated here today what a wonderful experience it can be, and we encourage other professional soccer teams to conduct similar clinics in their cities as well.”