Youth Sports: Get in the Game!
Sports are fun, and they offer benefits and lessons for kids that carry over into all aspects of life. According to researchers at the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University, kids who participate in organized sports do better in school, have better interpersonal skills, are more team oriented, and are generally healthier. Participation in sports provides opportunities for leadership and socialization, as well as the development of skills for handling success and failures.
Organized sports are unique, because they offer kids an arena where they can build self-esteem while exerting their natural abilities. Most children are naturally good at sports, because sports are essentially about the physical attributes of being a kid!
While sports and boys typically go hand in hand, benefits for girls have been of particular interest to researchers. The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports reports many developmental benefits of participating in youth sports and physical activity for girls, including increased self-esteem and self-confidence, healthier body image, significant experiences of competency and success, as well as reduced risk of chronic disease.
The Women’s Sports Foundation also notes that girls who participate in sports:
- are less likely to become pregnant as teenagers, or begin smoking
- decrease their risk of developing breast cancer
- are more likely to do well in science and to graduate from high school and college than female nonathletes.
Most importantly, when kids are asked why they play sports, the first response is usually: “It’s fun!”
Today, more than thirty million kids are benefiting socially and physically from participating on a wide range of recreational and competitive teams.
If your child is not ready to join a team, try at least 30 minutes of activity five days a week. Go to the park and play catch, or pick up a ball and shoot some hoops!
Find Youth Programs
Looking for youth programs? Check with your child's school or local parks and recreation department to find youth sports programs. For your convenience, here are links to a few parks and recreation departments:
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