At Sounders FC, we are committed to protecting our planet. As the first carbon neutral professional soccer team in North America and the first carbon neutral pro sports team in the United States, we commit to measuring, offsetting, and reducing our footprint every year. We collaborate with partners to educate youth most affected by environmental justice in King County and empower them to improve community health outcomes.
This month, we are teaming up with our climate justice partners at EarthGen to transform Seahurst and Hilltop Elementary Schools into greener, healthier spaces for students and the community. Seahurst and Hilltop, both part of Highline Public Schools, are racially and linguistically diverse, with high free and reduced lunch rates. The campuses function as community spaces for local families, as some of the only green spaces in the area. Unfortunately, the spaces are lacking. At Seahurst, a coarse gravel field dominates the play yard. At Hilltop, the poor drainage system and heavy Seattle rains create a giant puddle which is not conducive to safe play.
Our collective commitment to Seahurst Elementary began on April 8, as we continued the ‘Books and Balls’ program with our partners at the Northwest African American Museum, partnering to give away 350 RAVE Foundation soccer balls and over 700 books to students at the school. NAAM has curated children’s books by Black authors and artists that seek to not only help reflect personal experiences and reaffirm value for Black youth, but also allow all children to become familiar with diverse characters and storylines while enjoying a new book. RAVE Foundation’s gift of new soccer balls to pair with the books reflects RAVE’s belief in removing barriers to participation in soccer for all children and that the right to play is a human right. RAVE’s commitment to also Seahurst includes a special project on the playground – details to be announced soon – which will bring the space to life.
On April 23 and 30, over 100 volunteers from EarthGen, Sounders FC, and Delta will come together to bring the community’s visions to life.
The garden spaces contributed by EarthGen are rooted in education and community input. They began with stormwater and watershed curriculum at the middle school level. Local sixth grade students worked with EarthGen and landscape architects to create conceptual designs, incorporating their new knowledge, that was then presented to, and approved by, fourth grade students.
Input was also solicited from school staff, parents and the community at large through a bilingual survey, for community members to share what they would like to see in the space. Outcomes from the survey included a preference for logs and boulders as seating, and a love of adventure play. This intentional input from the community ensures that the community is heard that their needs are met, and that sustainable change is made.
The completed projects will be showcased late next month, as part of Sounders FC’s “Protect the Planet” match.