Start Smart provides reprieve for youth during pandemic

Start Smart provides reprieve for youth during pandemic

1/20/2021

Conducting youth sports programs that are filled with fun while adhering to social distancing guidelines and all-important safety protocols is more challenging than ever for recreation agencies these days.

But the youth sports staff at MCCS Cherry Point in North Carolina has found great success by turning to the Start Smart Sports Development Programs.

“The pandemic has thrown many challenges our way as a recreation staff,” says David Guthrie, Youth Sports Director at MCCS Cherry Point. “Parents have understandably been very eager to get their kids into athletic activities after being in lockdown mode for so long. It’s our responsibility to meet those needs while providing a safe environment for both kids and their parents – and Start Smart has been a fantastic way to do so.”

MCCS Cherry Point has been running Start Smart programs for nearly 20 years. The popular program helps prepare kids for organized sports by developing key motor skills. Plus, mom and dad get to participate alongside their child as they go through a series of activities that ramp up in difficulty from week to week as skill development and confidence blossoms.

Start Smart has emerged as a terrific program to offer to overcome the challenges that the pandemic has brought for several reasons:

• each child is provided their own set of sports equipment that they use during the program and take home, alleviating fears of contamination that can occur by sharing

• kids participate with their parent – socially distanced from others – so physical contact with others is eliminated

• the program can be run indoors or outdoors and is structured so that there is plenty of space between the participant

“This program is solely focused on developing skills and providing a fun experience for the kids and their parents,” Guthrie says. “There aren’t competitive games involved, so the kids are able to get some much-needed physical activity while working on their motor skills and engaging with their parents. Plus, they get to participate in a fun atmosphere where they get to see other kids while social distancing.”

A full line-up of Start Smart programs are available, enabling recreation agencies to choose what best fits the needs of their community. Along with the general program which targets basic motor skill development, there are also sport specific Start Smart programs for baseball, basketball, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer and tennis.

The MCCS staff ran Start Smart Soccer in the summer, and Start Smart Football and Start Smart Basketball in the fall.    

“Our staff has been really impressed by the many youth sport providers that have been able to navigate these difficult times, where providing kids safe outlets to participate in athletic activities is more important than ever,” says Andy Parker, Director of Youth Development for the National Alliance for Youth Sports. “The youth sports staff at MCCS Cherry Point is well-known for their outstanding work with the youth in their community, and it is rewarding to see how they have utilized our Start Smart programs to meet kids’ needs in a safe manner.”

Interested in learning more about offering Start Smart in your community? Email startsmart@nays.org or call 800-688-KIDS.

Start Smart Pandemic COVID-19 Health Safety Fun

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