Note: This is the third of eight profiles recognizing the outstanding organizations that were presented with the Excellence in Youth Sports Award in New Orleans during the Youth Sports Congress. The prestigious award, developed by the National Alliance for Youth Sports and Athletic Business magazine, recognizes programs that are doing superior jobs of conducting diverse activities with a focus on providing safe and positive experiences for all participants, including children, parents and coaches.

When it comes to providing fun and innovative youth programming that puts giant smiles on kids’ faces, the Beale Air Force Base Youth Programs staff has it mastered.

Committed to helping children embrace healthy activities and lead active lives, the Beale staff consistently rolls out fun-filled fitness challenges that grab the kids’ interest and keeps them fully engaged year-round.

Children get to participate in memorable events like Wet ‘n Wacky Fridays and Operation Night Hoops, as well as dodge ball, paint ball and team relays. Plus, there are an impressive array of camps, clinics and activities to choose from throughout the year, such as the British Soccer Camp, Gymnastics Camp, Ultimate Frisbee and America’s Kids Glow Run.

“We talk to the children,” says Jeanene Graves, youth sports and fitness director at Beale, which also won the Excellence Award in 2006. “Everything we get is from the kids. We get with the kids and they tell us what they want and we try to provide it. Kayaking, Ultimate Frisbee, Olympic Day – these are things that they brought to our attention and we make it happen. We’re here to support them.”

Everything about the program is focused on the children’s well-being and ensuring that their experience is a positive and richly rewarding one.

“Our programs are successful because we do everything in our power to make every child feel good about themselves in the safe, fun and stable environment we have created,” Graves says. “We believe that through sports they can learn valuable lessons like leadership, team unity, sportsmanship, fair play, character, respect and responsibility.”

For those young athletes looking for team sports the staff has that covered with basketball, cheerleading, swimming, soccer and baseball. For the younger kids they offer the widely popular Start Smart Sports Development Programs, which enable kids to learn the basic fundamentals of the sport in a fun environment that sets the stage for a smooth transition into organized sports in the future.

There are also plenty of opportunities to try out some less-traditional sports such as track and field, gymnastics and even martial arts.

“Our goal is to meet every child’s needs regardless of physical ability or social skill, educate the parents and in doing so make sure they understand that playing sports is much more than the final score,” Graves says. 

Excellence Award Beale AFB Fitness

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