Get Your Kids in the Game for National Youth Sports Week

There is a long list of health benefits that come with participating in sports, but it provides children with social benefits as well. During the week of July 16-22, thousands of those invested in youth sports will show their support for these benefits as they raise awareness for their programs. From coaches to athletic directors to youth athletes to parents, those who promote youth sports and healthy lifestyles are gearing up to support this year’s theme: Physical activity, Living healthy, Access, Youth development, and Safety – or P.L.A.Y.S.

Let’s take a look at a few important stats on today’s youth and their activity levels:

  • 20% of children between 6 and 12 are mostly sedentary.
  • Today’s kids spend over 27 hours a week in front of screens.
  • Less than 3 in 10 high school students get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
  • In 2007, only 30% of 9th-12th graders said they attended physical education classes every day.
  • In 1969, 41% of students walked or biked to school. By 2001, that number decreased to 13%.

According to the CDC, children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. This includes specific recommendations for aerobic activities, muscle-strengthening activities, and bone-strengthening activities. But if they’re sitting in front of screens a majority of their week and not getting consistent physical education classes in schools, how can they meet these recommendations?

Enter youth sports.

Only 39% of youth ages 9-13 say that participate in organized physical activity. Campaigns such as National Youth Sports Week seek to see that number skyrocket by reaching out to the community, the media, and elected officials to raise awareness of the benefits at stake.

Here’s why:

  • 88% of kids involved in sports reported experiencing an improvement in physical health.
  • 73% of kids involved in sports say it enhanced their mental health as well.
  • 56% of parents of kids involved in sports say it gives their children skills to help in future schooling.
  • 55% of parents of kids involved in sports say it give their children skills to help in their future career.
  • Participating in sports is credited with such health benefits as improving endurance and supporting weight control and with such social benefits as building character, boosting self-esteem, developing teamwork skills, and teaching discipline.

After helping them get involved in the sport (or sports) of their choice, it’s important to boost kids’ participation. Work with your community, your leagues, and/or your schools to ensure a wide range of sports are offered, emphasis is placed on fun more so than winning, the chance of injury is reduced as much as possible, and participation is encourage among young girls.

Here’s why these strategies matter:

  • Offering a wide variety of sports: This increases the likelihood your child can find one or more sport that interests her and that provides her the opportunity to showcase her best skills.
  • Emphasizing fun over winning: Your child may feel burdened by the sport of her choice if the emphasis is always placed on winning. By shifting that emphasis to the fun aspects, they are likely to enjoy their investment in the game much more while being respected for their efforts and improving their skills.
  • Reducing the risk of injury: Over 2 million people under the age of 19 are treated for sports injuries each year. Reducing that risk helps to keep kids safe and helps more parents feel comfortable encouraging their kids to participate.
  • Encouraging participation among girls: Before Title IX, 1 in 27 girls played sports. Now that number is 2 in 5. By improving not only your support of their participation but also your support of their sports in schools and in community leagues, you can help to ensure the next generation of girls has a healthy involvement in and access to a wide range of sports.

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