Sanford earns champion status for sports participation

National Youth Sports Strategy aims to get – and keep – more kids involved in athletics

Girls and boys kneel on a sports field to listen to coaches.

A continued commitment to youth sports has earned Sanford Health recognition as a National Youth Sports Strategy Champion.

The NYSS serves as a roadmap created as a resource by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It targets underserved populations and highlights strategies that promote and sustain youth sports participation.

As a champion in that effort, Sanford is working to encourage physical activity for life via platforms that will emphasize the benefits of playing sports.

“Sanford Health has multiple teams and departments working collaboratively to advance the health of kids in the communities we serve,” said Amy Baete, director of Sanford Children’s health initiative operations. “We provide clinical outreach, research and development, sports programming, grants, and education for young athletes and communities.”

By partnering with this federal office, Sanford Health will be able to further promote youth sports participation and physical activity.

In doing so, these organizations are targeting a need: Only 20% of adolescents meet physical activity guidelines of getting at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion reports.

Keeping kids in the game

“Our partnership with NYSS helps us keep a pulse on the national youth sports landscape as we continually strive to provide the safest, best opportunities for our youth to engage in sport,” said Nate Blessen, system executive director of Sanford Health Cardiovascular, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. “By adhering to many of the strategies of the NYSS, we are confident kids and families are getting some of the best experiences possible at a young age. Hopefully that will safely keep kids in the game and physically active for a lifetime.”

Youth sports participation provides benefits that extend well beyond those directly associated with physical activity, Baete emphasized. These include:

  • Higher levels of self-esteem and confidence in their abilities
  • Improved life skills, such as goal setting, time management and work ethic
  • Opportunities to develop social and interpersonal skills, such as teamwork, leadership, and relationship building
  • Improved concentration, memory, school attendance and academic performance

“Sanford Health engages young athletes in a variety of ways,” Baete said. “That includes providing sports medicine coverage to high schools and middle schools, providing strength and conditioning expertise annually through Sanford POWER and impacting kids’ whole-health and wellness through the Sanford FIT program.”

Part of Sanford’s vision

Ultimately, the goal is to provide opportunities to youth who might not get them otherwise. Sanford’s vision of improving the human condition has always included attention devoted to youth sports.

“We have developed a structure that puts our athletes first, from safety with our sports medicine teams, access with our academies and the Sanford FIT program, and performance through the Sanford Sports Science Institute,” Blessen said. “We’ve also developed partnerships with the American College of Sports Medicine and their collaboration with the National Youth Sports Health & Safety Institute, which are both part of the NYSS Champion organization.”

Increasing sports participation involves getting youth to start playing and helping them to continue playing — while also recognizing obstacles that can make that goal challenging.

“There are a number of barriers that can keep youth from starting sports, including access to play spaces, cost, social factors or even level of interest,” Baete said. “This partnership is a platform to help us overcome some of those barriers and increase the amount of whole-child wellness education we provide.”

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Posted In Children's, Healthy Living, Sports Medicine

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