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Army Child, Youth and School Services Partnership


Army Child, Youth and School Services Partnership National Alliance for Youth SportsThe National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) is pleased to work in partnership with the U.S. Army to provide positive, safe youth sports within the Army's Installation Management Command (IMCOM) Child, Youth and School Services (CYSS) programs. Working with NAYS, the Army is utilizing training and education programs for youth sports coaches, officials, administrators and parents; as well as the Start Smart Sports Development program for children on Army garrisons in Child Development Centers. The partnership underscores the high importance of proper training and education in youth sports.

“It is imperative that we set high standards for the safety and well-being of children and youth in our sports and fitness programs to ensure their physical, cognitive, social and emotional health,” said Donna M. McGrath, with Army CYSS Sports & Fitness Program Manager. “NAYS programs are inline with this objective, and the quality of training is unparalleled.”

McGrath says the Army was impressed by the characteristics of NAYS programs such as the NAYS Coach Training & Membership and the NAYS Parent Orientation. “We initially chose NAYS as the provider of training programs because we were pleased with the standards of training in the NAYS Coach Training program. We train more than 5,000 volunteer coaches annually. Training coaches through the NAYS program supports our mission and explains how important positive attitudes and actions are to youth development,” McGrath said. “We know by the very nature of sport that some parents can get carried away when their children are participating in sports activities. Emotions can get out of control which obviously isn’t good for any sports event. The PAYS Parent Orientation program helps us to educate parents to ensure positive experiences for children and youth during sporting activities.”

NAYS also offers some of the country’s premier sports education and development programs, including Start Smart Sports Development, which the Army is offering on all of its garrisons. Start Smart programs are opportunities for staff, parents and children to work together to prepare children for sports by teaching them basic motor skills and also sport-specific skills, with the intent of starting children on a lifelong path of health and fitness.

NAYS president and CEO Fred Engh said that through choosing to require NAYS programs on its bases, the U.S. Army is sending a powerful message about the importance of proper training for people who work with children.

“It is more important than ever to make sure that the people who are working with children in sports are educated and prepared for their roles as leaders in these kids’ lives,” Engh said. “With increased instances of violence among adults at youth sports events and negative environments, sports can end up doing more harm than good for some children whose coaches and parents haven’t been properly trained. And that should never happen.”

Engh said he is pleased to work with Army Child, Youth and School Services to help children in the unique situation of having one or more active-duty parents to participate in healthy, stable activities. “Sports are important in the overall well-being and development of children, especially for those whose lives can feel unstable and uncertain because they have one or more parents in the military,” he said. “It is imperative that they have a positive, non-violent outlet.”

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