Play Grow Learn, Genesis FC host 80 youths during fun, free week-long soccer camp.

COURTESY PHOTO: PLAY GROW LEARN - Rockwood kids spent a week in July learning soccer skills and having fun in a safe place thanks to two East County nonprofit organizations. Two East Multnomah County organizations teamed up last month to provide a fun outdoor camp for Rockwood kids during a time when community safety and violence are under a microscope.

Play Grow Learn and Genesis FC taught kids physical, social and emotional skills during a free week-long youth soccer camp, for ages 5-16, at Nadaka Nature Park, 17615 N.E. Glisan St. The camp, which ran from July 18-22, provided a safe place to play for children in neighborhoods that have been hit the hardest by spikes in gun violence.

"With recent reports that Black and Brown kids are most affected by the violence, we wanted to create a unified event for a safe alternative," said Anthony Bradley, Play Grow Learn executive director.

In addition to having fun learning soccer, the kids got to connect with each other in a safe place. They discussed daily words like kindness, integrity, love, and sportsmanship, and did ice breakers with fellow campers they didn't know to learn about their unique backgrounds and cultures.

The 80 kids at the camp all got lunch and snacks and took home a soccer ball and backpack. It all concluded with a big match and community celebration Friday afternoon, July 22, that brought together the kids, their families, and city leaders like Gresham Mayor Travis Stovall.

"With the camp we are keeping these kids out of trouble five hours each day with positive, healthy activities," Bradley said.

According to the Gresham Police Officers' Association, so far this year there have been 206 burglaries, 76 domestic violence cases, 596 vehicles stolen, 1,129 child abuse cases, 150 reported shootings, and 557 bullet casings found on Gresham's streets.

The city of Gresham formed a Youth Services Division to help address the needs of kids across the city and keep them safe. The team of Emon Ghassemi and Marcell Frazier are working with community partners like Play Grow Learn to host events like Friday Night Basketball and Summer Kids in the Park. Learn more at

Play Grow Learn needs volunteers and donations to continue hosting youth camps throughout the year. Connect via Play Grow Learn on Facebook, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or swing by their booth at the Rockwood Market Hall every Sunday for the weekly farmers market.

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