Kids In Cleats
Montclair, NJ mother-of-two and psychotherapist Erica Gerstman and her husband took their children to Africa. When they came back, they decided that they really needed to find a way to make a difference; and to teach their children about the bigger picture, how lucky they are, how to give back and the meaningfulness of that.
When Erica collaborated with Julio, her sons’ soccer trainer, who had a similar vision, Kids In Cleats was born.
Julio Tsasse’s mission growing up was to be someone so he could return to Cameroon and help his family and community. Soccer gave Julio the opportunity to leave Cameroon, and he then became a professional soccer player with IS Monaco. He is now using it as a tool to show people in his community that a better life is possible if you believe in something, believe in yourself, work hard and never give up.
Our overall mission is to use soccer as the vehicle for children to rise out of poverty through education, self-empowerment and sport in Cameroon, Africa. Through sport the goal is to engage young people and their families and help with education, food security and relationships with job training programs. This will provide the individual and community with the ability to break the cycle of poverty and improve the standard of living. A special effort will be made to have a specific girls’ program. This specialized program will focus on empowering these young girls and providing them with the tools to succeed within their social and familial environments.
Our long-term goal is to have proper soccer fields, a multi-purpose community center, a working farm, and a solid coaching staff that will not only be great trainers but also mentors for our kids. Each kid will be expected to meet educational goals and will hopefully be able to enter into secondary school and/or specific training programs. Further, it will be mandatory that our kids attend monthly or bi-monthly learning sessions that will focus on HIV/AIDS awareness, type 1 diabetes, safe sex practices, and various other health care issues.
See what we have accomplished so far.