School’s out for summer, and all across the neighborhood kids are kicking a ball in the yard or walking to the recreation center or YMCA for sports camp. It’s as natural as turning the calendar page to June, but five rising sophomores want to ensure more kids get to participate.

Maxwell Jensen (Richardson High), Will Maya (Bishop Lynch), Zachary Strong (Woodrow Wilson), Calvin Lewis (Woodrow Wilson) and Zach Lewis (Woodrow Wilson) created Kickoff Sports Dallas, and their mission is to improve access to athletics for youth in the community. They’ll hold a sports equipment drive today/Saturday from noon to 4 at 6833 Topsfield Drive in Merriman Park Estates. Collected items will be distributed to Northwest Community Center in nearby Vickery Meadow.

New and gently used equipment will be accepted, including footballs, basketballs, baseballs, soccer balls, sneakers, cleats, basketball shoes, bats, tees, helmets and gloves. If you can’t make it Saturday, donations may be dropped off Monday-Friday at Republic Title Texas, 6348 Gaston Avenue.

The boys say they noticed, when they got to junior high and began playing sports, that most of the kids who made the teams had years of access to sports training by playing on teams or getting private lessons. They wanted to try and bridge that gap to ensure underprivileged kids could play and compete.

Kickoff Sports Dallas began, ironically, when the membership-limited Young Men’s Service League was flooded with applicants and the boys didn’t get in. They decided to create their own program, identifying a problem in their own community and coming up with a solution. Megan Carlton, education services coordinator with Refugee Services of Texas, has become their mentor and is guiding them to help fill the needs of students in Vickery Meadow and Lake Highlands.

Kickoff Sports Dallas plans to partner this summer with Kids U, Forerunner Mentoring and Richardson ISD to provide sports camps in addition to equipment. Your donation of equipment is appreciated.