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ATLANTA -- Sprite is teaming up with Miami Heat basketball star LeBron James for the first phase of the Sprite Spark Parks Project. The initiative will funnel approximately $2 million into building and refurbishing parks, athletic fields, playgrounds and basketball courts.
Consumers are urged to join the effort by nominating and voting for the renovation of their favorite local basketball court, collecting green tabs found on Sprite and Sprite Zero cans to raise money to help refresh communities and play areas, and entering an online sweepstakes for a chance to win a new playground or athletic field for their local school.
According to Sprite, the company expects to the program to help more than 150 basketball courts, community spaces, playgrounds and athletic fields in at least 40 U.S. cities this year. "The Sprite Spark Parks Project is a multi-year commitment to build and restore play environments where teens, families and neighbors can get outside and be active," said Caren Pasquale Seckler, vice president, Flavor Brands Portfolio, Coca-Cola North America. "Our goal is to improve communities in inspired ways and we're relying on people around the country to help us identify the places where we can make the biggest impact. As more people get involved, the project will become more powerful."
To nominate a basketball court for renovation, people can log onto www.Facebook.com/Sprite through April 8 to designate a court for consideration. Participants can also post pictures and short message describing why the court deserves a makeover. The nominees will be narrowed down to approximately 70 finalists -- based on support generated during the nomination process -- which will be put to a nationwide vote. As part of the program, at last 21 courts will receive funding in 2011 for items such as new rims, backboards, blacktop surfaces and art installations created by local artists to inspire play, according to a Sprite press release.
In addition, one court from each of seven different regions across the country will receive a $35,000 grant. Fourteen other locations will receive $20,000 each.
"Rebuilding playgrounds, gymnasiums and places for young people to play is one of my biggest priorities," Heat forward James said. "Sprite Spark Parks offers young people an opportunity to make a difference in their community with their local courts where future generations of basketball stars can develop their skills."
For his part, James appears in a television commercial -- which debuted this weekend during the NBA All-Star 2011 -- supporting the initiative. Also, fans can text "SPARK" to 777483 to receive a message from James about the program.
Beginning in April, families can start collecting green tabs from specially marked cans of Sprite and Sprite Zero and send them to Sprite; for every tab received the company will donate 10 cents to Habitat for Humanity, with a minimum donation of $250,000.
The initiative continues into the summer months when families will have an opportunity to win a refurbished playground or athletic field for their local school by submitting the My Coke Rewards codes found on Sprite and Sprite Zero Fridge Pack and two-liter products.
In 2012, the Sprite Spark Parks Project will focus on other play spaces that are important to teens.