MIAMI – The Miami Dolphins FOOTBALL UNITES™ Captains Program, a diversity and inclusion initiative that brings together middle school students from various backgrounds, held their fourth group event at the FOOTBALL UNITES™ Cultural Tour, which featured stops in Liberty City and Little Haiti on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Current players Stephone Anthony, Jerome Baker, Leonte Carroo, Xavien Howard, Durham Smythe and Jamiyus Pittman along with alumni Arturo Freeman, Lorenzo Hampton, Anthony Harris, Jim Jensen, Nat Moore, Ed Perry, Troy Stradford and Jed Weaver, cheerleaders and staff took part in the event.
"This FOOTBALL UNITES™ Cultural Tour went to Little Haiti, Liberty City we were able to see different cultures and have these kids come together," said Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard. "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."
"We are trying to get the players 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 Vice Chairman, President & CEO of the Miami Dolphins Tom Garfinkel. "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."
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. Youth of 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.
"It was truly gratifying to have everyone, especially the youth, experience the neighborhood that I grew up in so that they could learn the history and also see all the changes that have taken place," said Senior Vice President of Special Projects and Alumni Relations Nat Moore. "South Florida has such a proud and unique background and the Miami Dolphins recognize that and want to celebrate that and that is what we are doing through the FOOTBALL UNITES™ program."
The group began with a tour of Little Haiti making 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 liberty freedom soup," said Owner and Chef of Chef Creole Wilkinson Sejour. "Everybody these days is guessing, 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."
Afterwards, the group toured Liberty City and visited Charles Hadley Park to learn about the community and watch a performance.
"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 Founder of Liberty City Optimists Luther Campbell. "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."
"I think the kids really enjoyed having some of the Dolphins players and alumni here It is a wonderful organization, this is a very diverse community and we should and need to respect each other's cultures and race," said Miami-Dade County Vice Chairwoman of the Board of County Commissioners Audrey Edmonson.
This tour marks the third of four FOOTBALL UNITES™ Cultural Tours scheduled throughout the 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.