What Is the 18th Ward?
New Orleans is divided into 17 wards. The 18th Ward is where kids from across the city play together.
We created the 18th Ward to increase youth access to sports by eliminating barriers to participation. We work with kids between 4 and 8 years old. Everyone is welcome to play with us regardless of gender, race, income or neighborhood. We provide high-quality programs and trained coaches to make sure kids have fun and learn the foundational skills to feel successful in sports.
There are three major components at the heart of our program – quality, cost, and inclusivity.
Our Core Components
We leverage our expertise in the field of education by using best practices in teaching to help kids master the foundational skills embedded in sports. We prioritize the key fundamentals in each sport and teach our athletes through skill-driven activities and games. While 40% of youth sports coaches have no training, we train all of our coaches. We recruit young leaders and teenage athletes to serve as coaches in our community. We believe the lessons learned and experience gained in our programs will fuel leadership pipelines in our city for years to come.
While other youth sports leagues charge between $125-$185 per season, we guarantee a great experience at a much lower price. The cost for a family to enroll their children in our program is between $5-$75. Families choose the option that best supports their budget. Our sliding scale model helps generate immediate and long-term savings for families. By lowering participation fees, we can eliminate a common barrier to participation and increase access to all families in New Orleans regardless of income. We believe cost should never keep kids out of sports.
We want to provide a space where everyone feels welcome and are committed to ensuring our children participate in activities which reflect our city’s diversity. Our goal is to eliminate barriers to participation so that more children in New Orleans have access to sports. We actively recruit a diverse population of athletes and we do not separate our players based on gender. We know that will happen later in their sports careers and we think it is critical they learn and play together at this point in their lives.
How We Play
We want our kids to have fun AND learn. During the first portion of each practice, kids rotate in small groups to different stations. They participate in skill-building exercises and game-based activities. Each training station is tailored to the age-appropriate and developmental levels of each small group. During the final portion of each practice, we split into teams and scrimmage.
We don’t draft or rate players. Instead, we prefer to mix up the teams each week to create fun, competitive games. Conversations after each practice/game are less about the scoreboard and more about which skills a player is improving on during games and which one they want to work on to get better.
Our program is designed to maximize time, build skill, and make sure fun isn’t lost during competition. We practice at the same time each week so families can maintain a consistent schedule on the weekends. We developed our mixed gender/age model to make our program more conducive to families with busy schedules and multiple kids.
Youth Sports Participation
We created our program to address the gaps in youth sports participation:
- In New Orleans: less than 20% of kids in Orleans Parish are active in sports.
- Across gender lines: 40% of teen girls do not participate in sports compared to 25% of teen boys. (Zarrett, N. Veliz, P. & Sabo, D. 2018)
- Due to financial barriers: children from low-income families are 30% less likely to participate. (The Aspen Institute)
- Based on race/ethnicity: youth representation across the country for black athletes is 8% for youth soccer, 10% for baseball, 14% for football, and 25% for basketball. (Sports & Fitness Industry Association)