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Now that obesity in the United States has reached epidemic proportions – increasing by more than 50 percent among America’s children and teens since 1976 – the challenge of getting them off the couch and into an activity is increasingly critical. One recent study projected that life expectancies of our young people may, for the first time, be shorter than their parents. The report found that diseases and complications associated with obesity – Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, cancer – are likely to strike people at younger and younger ages.
That’s why we at the Y feel that our Youth Sports program is more needed that ever. In 2009, a National Survey of Children’s Health showed that non-athletes are 60 percent more likely to be overweight than athletes. At the Y, our mission is to build stronger communities and one way we do that is by developing strength in our youth. Through our Youth Sports program, young people are able to build confidence, learn teamwork, make friends and discover new capabilities. According to Kids Play USA, children who play sports are more likely to:
• Perform well in school
• Graduate from high school
• Go to college
• Become and remain employed
• Become directors and managers
Many school-based athletic programs become increasingly competitive as a child advances through grade levels. Middle school and high school children who are not athletically gifted may not find a role for themselves. That’s where the Y comes in. The goal of the YMCA sports programs is to foster youth development and nurture the potential of every child. The Y also offers Adaptive Sports programs so children with special needs can also learn new skills and build self-esteem through sports.
The Oldham County Family YMCA in Buckner is one of the community’s best resources for youth fitness, offering a wide variety of youth sports programs for ages 3 to 17, such as soccer, basketball, baseball, volleyball, lacrosse, swimming, flag football and field hockey. Our programs are designed to include all types of athletes. We have included a playing time rule in most of our sports, which requires all players to play at least half the game. Having the ability to not only be a part of a team, but also to participate is very important to improving self confidence.
Y-USA, the national association of YMCAs, recently released a survey of 4,266 participants in YMCA Youth Sports nationally. The survey found:
-92 percent gained new knowledge, skills and abilities;
-94 percent became more physically active;
-91 percent gained confidence;
-91 percent made new friends;
- and 91 percent improved his or her sports skills.
Keep the Oldham County YMCA in mind when considering sports options for your children. You can get information about our Youth Sports program at ymcalouisville.org or call us at 222-9358. Our wide variety of sports and inclusive nature is great for all ages.
Jordan Gagel is the Youth Sports Director at the Oldham County Family YMCA. His column is part of a monthly series from the Oldham County YMCA. The views in this column are those of the writer.