The Dolphins again provided a unique opportunity last week for various groups to explore the diversity of South Florida with their third Cultural Tour, this one in Liberty City and Little Haiti.
Photo gallery: Football Unites Cultural Tour
The event was the third of four FOOTBALL UNITES™ Cultural Tours scheduled this year. These unique experiences are a result of a joint partnership with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau to provide local youth, community leaders and law enforcement the opportunity to experience the richness, diversity and history of South Florida.
"We are trying to get the players and staff acclimated with all the different parts of Miami. Liberty City is obviously an important part of the fabric of the City of Miami, so we want to get people and get the players out in the community to meet with people and meet these kids," said Tom Garfinkel, Dolphins Vice Chairman, President and CEO. "There is a lot of polarization right now going on in society and in the country and we want to bring all kinds of different people together and really have some fun. Getting everyone together enjoying each other and talking and having conversations I think that is really important."
Joining members of the Captains Program on the tour were Dolphins representatives, along with current players and alumni, and cheerleaders.
The list of current players included Stephone Anthony, Jerome Baker, Leonte Carroo, Xavien Howard, Durham Smythe and Jamiyus Pittman. Alumni on hand included Arturo Freeman, Lorenzo Hampton, Anthony Harris, Jim Jensen, Nat Moore, Ed Perry, Troy Stradford and Jed Weaver.
"We went to Little Haiti and Liberty City, we were able to see different cultures and have these kids come together," Howard said. "It shows kids the good way of life and puts in a good aspect for them so they can see better for themselves and better for their environment. It was great interacting with the kids, hearing their stories and seeing the different cultures."
The first stop on the tour was a visit to Little Haiti that included stops at Chef Creole and the Little Haiti Cultural Center.
"The Miami Dolphins organization brought them (the youth) to Little Haiti to educate them about heritage and tradition and also they were hungry so they had some of Chef Creole's famous joumou (rich pumpkin) liberty freedom soup," said Wilkinson Sejour, owner and Chef of Chef Creole. "Everybody these days is guessing and your neighbor you don't know who they are and you have a misconception about everything. But when you're able to have a liaison and you have the Miami Dolphins organization that has the man power to provide and get the resources together in order to educate you about everything it is a no-brainer."
The group later toured Liberty City and visited Charles Hadley Park.
Youth from the Boys & Girls Club of Broward County, North Miami PAL, North Miami Beach PAL, Greater Miami Pop Warner Tamiami Colts Jr. Varsity, Temple Beth Am Day School as well as community leaders participated in this event.
"What the Dolphins are doing here today is great. They bring kids from all across South Florida to have them on this cultural tour and by coming by Liberty City Optimists in Liberty City we are telling them about our great program and our great city and the history of our city," said Luther Campbell, founder of Liberty City Optimist. "Especially in this climate of the world, NFL players and organizations are coming out and being a part of the community not just saying it. That is one good thing about the Dolphins, they don't just say things they go out and they'll invite people into their world as well as come out into our world, which is a great thing."
FOOTBALL UNITES™ Captains meet once a month for a day of learning about tolerance, acceptance and leadership. Dolphins players and alumni join these students to share their stories, perspectives and experiences. The Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) assists with programming and program evaluation.
The fourth cultural tour will take place Sunday in Broward County.
"I think the kids really enjoyed having some of the Dolphins players and alumni here," said Audrey Edmonson, Miami-Dade County Commissioner. "It is a wonderful organization. This is a very diverse community and we should and need to respect each other's cultures and race."