HIGH POINT, N.C. — The hustle and bustle of soccer games and orange slices is one that many of us know well from our childhood, although not all kids have the chance to learn and play sports. 

Beyond Sports is an organization that has a mission to help make a positive impact in the community through sports and specifically for Title I schools who may not be able to afford it.

What You Need To Know

  • Beyond Sports brings coaching, free equipment bags, field day, school beautification and more to Title I schools 

  • The Foundation for a Healthy High Point awarded Beyond Sports at $66,580 grant 

  • Twenty-five schools are now benefiting from the program 

The organization exposes students in selected grades in elementary and middle schools to different sports for multiple weeks. 

It's why co-founders Mike Kennedy and Micheala Amidon founded Beyond Sports two years ago after their personal experiences working in Title I schools. 

“We worked together for many years and just would talk and talk and talk about this issue and said, you know what, let's quit talking about let's try to do something about it,” Kennedy said. 

Amidon was a four-year starter and captain for Elon soccer, where she eventually coached. She also coached rec leagues, personal training and camp counseling. Kennedy coached his kids' soccer teams as well as rec, travel and high school sports. He also was the president of North Carolina GUSA, which is now known as Fusion. 

He said coaching at Title I schools allowed him to see through the bubble he grew up in and that not all opportunities are equal. 

“We wanted create a platform or an opportunity to raise awareness for Title I schools and the lack of funding they have. Specifically when it comes to sports and opportunity, there's just not equal access and opportunity,” Kennedy said. 

As Beyond Sports enters its third year, it has increased the number of schools impacted from two to 25, spreading from Guilford to Forsyth county. 

“I don't know if there really is an end game. We have you know, we think about that. We've talked to a lot of people. We're in Forsyth County now, which is the Winston community we just started in. We've got four schools there. You I think we'll take this as far as far as it needs to go,” Kennedy said. 

Kennedy and Amidon’s dream would not be able to be made into a reality without grants and donations from the community. The Foundation for a Healthy High Point awarded a $66,580 grant to Beyond Sports at the beginning of August. 

Mike Kennedy helping a third grade student block the soccer goal.
Mike Kennedy helping a third grade student block the soccer goal. (Spectrum News 1/Sydney McCoy)

“You know, one of the things, and we bring potential donors around and we show them the schools. I've never had anybody say no. Once they actually get here and see it, you know, touch it, feel it, and you're like, wow, this is a real problem once you see,” Kennedy said. 

Grants like the one Beyond Sports received allow it to provide free equipment bags, hoops and goals, coaching at recess, field day activities, beautification of the outside of the school, help renovate rundown areas and pay staff. 

Beyond Sports works in a pod system, working with the elementary schools that feed into middle schools. This grant allows the program to fund a second pod in High Point for two years. This allows it to be at almost every Title I school in High Point.

“To see the smiles. You get to see the laughter, the fun. I mean, it really puts life in perspective as to how something as simple as a ball, an activity might be the catalyst that gives a child to change direction where they want to go,” Kennedy said. 

The American Academy of Child & Psychiatric Psychology says introducing children to sports provides many life skills, some of which include self esteem,  teamwork building and learning how to play fair and physical skills.

Amidon says they have seen an increase in attendance on the days Beyond Sports works with the kids at the schools, and they have a reward system for kids who are identified by their teacher. 

“We love to see kids. You know, playing sports, being active. And it's not about trying to create super athletes. It's just trying to get kids involved and getting the benefits of being a part of a team, being something larger than themselves,” Kennedy said. 

Kennedy says his goal is to bring more adaptive students to the program and to make sure every kid has access to recess.