The Fort Leonard Wood Youth Sports and Fitness program has been designated a “Better Sports for Kids Quality Program Provider” by the National Alliance for Youth Sports. The designation recognizes organizations that have met its standards for administering youth sports programming.
Robert Nott, director of Youth Sports and Fitness, said the certification shows players and parents that Fort Leonard Wood is committed to providing a high-quality program.
“What (parents) can get out of it is knowing that we are providing quality programming, that we have the resources to train coaches — that we provide them child-abuse prevention training, first-aid training, CPR training — and that assures that their children are safe and in a safe environment,” Nott said.
Fort Leonard Wood has held the designation previously, but at some point it was allowed to lapse, according to Nott. He said he decided to apply for the designation shortly after taking the job as the Youth Sports and Fitness director about a year ago.
“By meeting these standards we certify all areas of the program are for the betterment of the children,” Nott added, noting that the designation is comprehensive, covering the entire Youth Sports and Fitness program.
Fort Leonard Wood offers up to 13 team sports, along with sports clinics, camps and single-day activities throughout the year. While some select team sports are run in conjunction with Waynesville and St. Robert municipal programs, for the most part, participants in the FLW Youth Sports program must be eligible for and registered with the Parent Central Services. Nott said that, recently, participation has been on the rise.
“We have seen an increase in youth participation double/triple previous participation totals,” Nott said. “Hopefully, this implies we are meeting the desires of the community and that the quality of our programs are always improving.”
About the designation
In a press release, NAYS officials explained that the Better Sports for Kids Quality Program Provider designation was created to help young athletes and parents make informed choices when facing the variety of public and private sports outlets, programs and specialty teams available to them.
Any organization can apply to be evaluated for the designation, and no cost is involved.
“Parents typically have lots of questions and valid concerns when deciding where to enroll their child,” said John Engh, executive director of NAYS.
“When parents see that a program has the Quality Program Provider designation they will know that we have already asked all the tough questions that they may not have even considered or perhaps were afraid of bringing up,” Engh said.
He added the designation enables organizations to showcase the quality of their programs.
To earn the Better Sports for Kids Quality Program Provider designation a youth sports program must fulfill all the components associated with these five key requirements:
— Written policies and procedures
— Volunteer screening
— Coach training
— Parent education
Within each of these five areas are important details that organizations must prove they address in order to earn the designation.
Examples include whether an organization has written policies regarding playing time, disseminates concussion-awareness information to coaches, subjects volunteers to background checks and verification, includes a system for receiving and responding to complaints, and more.
Engh said organizations that earn the designation “stand out within their community for demonstrating that they have taken a proactive approach on some tough issues and are providing youth sports programs of the highest standard.”
More information about the Better Sports for Kids Quality Program Provider designation is available online at nays.org/quality.