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HHS Announces Federal Strategy to Boost Youth Sports Participation - But It's Hardly Unique

27 Nov, 2019

By: Judy Leand

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services unveiled the National Youth Strategy, the first federal plan that outlines steps that the country can take to ensure that all youth have the opportunity to play sports regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, ability or ZIP code.

The initiative is designed to increase participation in sports, boost awareness of the benefits of sports participation, monitor and evaluate youth sports participation, and recruit and engage volunteers in youth sports programming. HHS developed the National Youth Sports Strategy in response to the Trump Administration’s Executive Order 13824 that called for a national strategy to increase youth sports participation.

Because children from low-income families, kids with disabilities, and girls are less likely to participate in sports, the HHS Office of Minority Health and the Office on Women’s Health announced $6.7 million in grants to 18 communities to promote sports participation. The two-year Youth Engagement in Sports: Collaboration to Improve Adolescent Physical Activity and Nutrition (YES) grants, will support local partnerships that offer youth sports and nutrition activities for racial and ethnic minorities, girls, and disadvantaged youth, particularly in areas where few youth programs exist.

In the U.S. today, the average child plays a sport for less than three years and quits by age 11, according to research conducted by the Aspen Institute and Utah State University. This is distressing news in light of rising obesity rates, the siren call of video games, and increasing fees involved with participation.

While it’s great that the federal government now has an official mandate to promote youth sports participation, many vendors, retailers and associations in the sporting goods industry are involved in similar efforts. For example, Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation’s Sports Matter initiative has pledged to provide access to sports for one million youth athletes by 2024 and Nike’s Made to Play commitment has helped 16.5 million kids get moving.

About the Author

Judy Leand

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