Transforming Communities Through Youth Sports

About Active Children PortlandAC Portland Kids Stretching

Active Children Portland keeps children active in their club, classroom, and community. Programming is an active and holistic approach to childhood development, which includes sports, creative writing, nutrition education, and service learning projects.

Active Children Portland’s mission is to empower students to lead healthy lives, succeed academically, and inspire positive community engagement. The organization began in 2011 with the vision to transform communities and serve hundreds of local students through youth sports. Active Children Portland program participants receive programming 30 weeks a year, 4 days per week, which keeps them active, healthy, and engaged in a positive and stable after-school environment. Our programs focus on helping all participants to develop the confidence and life skills they need to succeed. We believe that by taking a holistic and comprehensive approach to youth-development, and by focusing on kids who need it the most, we CAN make a positive difference for the next generation.

Today, Active Children Portland delivers 30 weeks of after-school programming to over 600 under-served, urban elementary and middle school students at eleven different sites throughout the Portland metro area. 97% of the children enrolled in our programs qualify for free or reduced lunches. In fall and spring, we engage youth through America SCORES and Soccer for Success (US Soccer Foundation) programming, which integrates soccer, creative writing, nutrition education, and community service projects. In January 2014, we expanded our winter programming to include PeacePlayers International, a peace building and leadership development curriculum that uses basketball to bring children together and teach proven tactics for improving their communities.




Active Children Portland is very fortunate to have amazing coaches working with our participants. Our coaches represent our brand of positive community involvement with youth in need.

This is an interview with the Active Children Portland 4th-5th grade coach, Nate Jones, at Sitton Elementary in the St. Johns Neighborhood of Portland

Q.       What was your experience with soccer and sports in general growing up (How did they help you as a person? Soccer was one of the first sports I ever tried. Playing with the Salvation Army, I loved it and its still great passion of mine. It really taught me how valuable team work is. Soccer is one sport where you can’t win alone and you need to trust and have faith in others. That helped me in life along with other sports.
Q.       Who was an influential coach in your life? What made them influential? 

I was lucky enough to have a father that coached me up until high school in every sport, it was really impactful. It made me tough that’s for sure, but his ways made me a successful athlete at all levels I competed at. I was expected to be nothing but a leader. He also gave me good coaching skills.
Q.       How did you like coaching for Active Children Portland

Coaching for Active Children Portland is amazing, I enjoy working and going to work. I love my connection with my team and making a difference in their life on a daily basis.
Q.    How does Active Children Portland‘s programming help the participants? 

Active Children Portland teaches the children how to work together, what it means to be on a team or in a program. Also teaching them commitment, hard work, and how to live a healthy lifestyle. Also helping them understand you can’t have fun or play sports without handling school first.
Q.     What’s your favorite moment so far coaching in the program?  

My favorite moment would have to be the look on my kids’ faces and their excitement when I see them every day and they are ready to buckle down finish work and get on the field. It just makes me proud to see them grow every day.



America Scores is a program that Active Children Portland has partnered with that integrates soccer, poetry and service-learning, with an approach that improves students’ health, academic achievement.


Active Children Portland is very fortunate to have many volunteers who help us with our operations, training, and our overall community impact. From time to time we will feature one of our volunteers to showcase their project and dedication to helping children become more active in Portland.  

Gina Leonardi is a creative, forward-thinking Portland State graduate whose mission is to inspire positive social change by empowering youth through sport and recreation to contribute to safe and healthy communities.

Gina has helped develop curriculum and materials for coaches in the basketball and soccer programs. She has worked with Jared to develop a new safety and behavior training and resources for coaches. Coaches will have a manual with everything from warm-up activities to behavior management strategies, that will help coaches manage their teams and make the most of every practice and game.


One of our favorite thing about soccer is how it connects people from different backgrounds in a fun and meaningful way.


Sóstenes is on the Active Children Portland‘s Davis Elementary 4th-5th grade soccer team. Davis Elementary is located off 195th and NE Davis in East Portland. Sóstenes was nominated by his coach and the after-school manager at Davis Elementary

1. If you could be a super hero who would you be and why?

I just want to be a soccer player that plays for Mexico.

2. What do you enjoy most about soccer?

Just being able to play with my friends and playing against other teams, not knowing if you will win or lose.

3. Do you have any friends on the team? Do they help you at practice?

Yes, they all of them are my friends.

4. What does it mean to be a good teammate?

Helping each other…not getting mad when someone makes a mistake and instead, encouraging them to do better.

5. How does soccer help you be healthy?

I get to run a lot…it’s good exercise.

6. How does your coach help you at practice?

He helps us learn our positions and helps us work together. He makes sure that we are learning and having fun.

7. What would you change about the world if you could change one thing?

All the bad people and bad things that happen in the world.

“Sostenes is always on task, works hard, and leads by example.” – Coach Illia

A big thanks to his coach Illia Shershun and the Metropolitan Family Service SUN school manager at Davis Elementary, Kevin Donato. Our program wouldn’t exist without the support from people like Illia and Kevin.

USSFlogo“Soccer for Success provides children in under-served urban communities with structured physical activity, nutrition education and mentorship – at no cost to their families.”

AmericaSCORESlogoThe America Scores program encompasses soccer, creative writing, and service learning, to inspire urban youth to lead healthy lives, be engaged students, and have the confidence and character to make a difference in the world.