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Youth Sport & Disability and Why You Should Care

Back in December I attended the USOC’s Youth Sport Symposium. As usual, I attend these conferences wearing by adapted sport hat, always thinking about how the information shared over the three days pertains to the disability sport space. The Symposium kicked off with a video titled, The Price of Youth Sports from Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch and be sure to wear your adapted sport hat. Until then, here’s a quick breakdown…

Youth Sports has become a booming $17 billion industry in the United States alone. The price of playing sports has skyrocketed, and as a result, millions of youth are being priced out of being able to play. The gap is widening between who gets to play and who doesn’t while community parks and recreation programs continue to diminish with budget cuts, antiquated and dilapidated facilities. Participating in youth sports has become inaccessible to those whose families cannot afford to sign up their children for particular leagues or teams. Because of lack of sport access and opportunity, the trajectory of children’s lives, the “have nots”, are often times negatively impacted. Despite a fundamental belief that sport, or in a more general sense, play is for everyone, the general consensus in this story is that youth sport is for the “haves” and out of reach for the “have nots.”

This begs the question: how do these challenges of access and opportunity in sport and physical activity affect youth with disabilities? What is our role as a community in helping close that gap?

Viewing the story numerous times only stirred up more questions for me as to how we can create more opportunities and access for those we serve. Here are a few general thoughts and questions for us all to ponder:

  • Hats off to you, leaders in the industry and all your tireless efforts, creativity, determination and long hours building sport opportunities and creating access for youth with disabilities!!
  • How do we as professionals come together to reach more youth with disabilities and introduce them to all the possibilities that come with sport participation?
  • Are there national efforts or initiatives that we can leverage to create more opportunities for youth with disabilities?
  • Where do youth with disabilities fit into the $17 billion youth sport industry referenced in the video?

What are your thoughts and ideas on how we can create more sport opportunities and access for youth with disabilities? Comment below to share, ask questions or chime in with your take on the video.

I hope you find the time to watch the video, The Price of Youth Sports and participate in the conversation.

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