Evander Holyfield once said “It is not the size of the man but the size of his heart that matters.” Anyone who has ever sat on the sideline and watched a youth sports team knows the truth to those words, especially when it’s school-aged boys and girls teaming up and giving it everything they’ve got on the field, in the pool or on the court.
Study after study shows that participating in sports helps children develop stronger social skills, learn how to set and achieve goals, develop leadership skills and qualities, gain a greater sense of independence and confidence, and develop an overall stronger body and mind.
Girls, in particular, stand to benefit from getting involved in sports at a young age. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, female high school athletes are 92% less likely to use drugs, 80% less likely to get pregnant, and three times more likely to graduate than non-athletes.
However, due to the rising cost of youth sports, more than 62% of kids ages 9-13 do not participate in any organized physical activity outside of school hours because of financial constraints.
Fortunately, organizations like KIDS in the GAME are stepping up to provide a way for underserved kids to get involved in youth sports. KIDS in the GAME is a national non-profit organization that was designed specifically to increase opportunities for youth to participate in sports regardless of ability, ethnicity or socio-economic background.
Through KIDS in the GAME, for example, donors can browse young athlete support requests and give any amount to the ones that inspire them. For example, earlier this year the Detour bar company provided funding that allowed 200 boys and girls nationwide to play soccer through a donation to KIDS in the GAME and a partnership with the American Youth Soccer Organization.
In addition to enabling kids from California to Alabama to join their local soccer teams, 20 kids from the program also had a chance to attend an exhibition game of the United States gold medal-winning soccer team and to meet gold medalist Megan Rapinoe in person following the game at The Home Depot Center in California.
Although it’s statistically unlikely that one of these 20 children will go on to become the next Megan Rapinoe, there is a good chance that if they stick with sports they will go on to graduate from high school, develop stronger relationships, be engaged members of the community and live a healthier lifestyle. It’s easy to see how we all benefit from getting more kids in the game. I hope you join us.
– Patrick Muldoon is CEO of Forward Foods, maker of Detour protein bars. Through its “Detour For Good” program the company supports charities and non-profit organizations that help children and adults choose and follow the path to overall wellness. Muldoon is particularly passionate about supporting the health and well-being of future generations.