O.C. Rec Department Chosen for Pilot Program

OCEAN CITY- The Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department has been chosen to pilot a national program aimed at helping young athletes learn valuable life skills through their sports participation.

Through “Let’s Talk Sports,” a free program created by the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS), parents will guide their children through an interactive series of engaging and thought-provoking questions via computer from the comfort of home that teach the importance of determination, confidence, respect, pride and anti-bullying, among many other key characteristics that are essential for leading successful lives as adults.

“Our recreation department is honored to be chosen to pilot this most impressive program that really shows the true value of what kids should be gaining from their sports participation,” said Ocean City Recreation and Parks Supervisor Al “Hondo” Handy. “Too often the attention is focused on the won-loss column rather than on all the wonderful benefits that children learn when parents clearly understand the important role sports can play in a child’s life.”

Beginning Nov. 3, parents with children involved in sports programs at the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department can go through the “Let’s Talk Sports” program with their child at home at their own pace. Each section of the program targets an important life skill and scenarios are posed which challenge the child to choose the correct responses through a series of multiple choice questions.

Since parents participate alongside their child there is the added benefit of productive discussions emerging, which can strengthen the parent-child bond while enhancing the learning experience. Each child that completes the program will receive a free Certified Youth Sports Kid T-shirt as well as a certificate that they print from their computer.

Also, Buxy’s Salty Dog restaurant will provide a free kid’s meal for any youngster wearing their Certified Youth Sports Kid T-shirt. Red Sun Apparel is providing the T-shirts for the pilot program. In addition, parents and their child will receive a free booklet, “Increase Your Child’s Sports Power” written by noted exercise physiologist Dr. Michael Gray.

“If what kids learn in the classroom is important then so too are the life lessons they learn while playing sports,” said Fred Engh, founder and president of NAYS, a former Ocean City resident. “How great would it be if some day we reach the point where after the game instead of parents not only asking who won, they also ask, ‘What did your team learn about determination today?’”

Once parents in Ocean City have gone through the program with their child they will complete a questionnaire that NAYS staff will use to evaluate the program’s effectiveness. The program will be released to parks and recreation departments nationwide and to U.S. military bases worldwide in 2013 and will be free.

“The Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department is truly excited to utilize this program to help both parents and their young athletes gain a better understanding of how these important characteristics apply to their everyday life,” said Handy.