The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published the country's first ever National Youth Sports Strategy, described as a "blueprint for increasing youth sports participation and bettering lives".
It is the first federal roadmap that outlines steps to ensure all young people have the same opportunities and access to play sports – regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, ability or geography.
The strategy outlines plans to grow participation in sports, increase awareness of the benefits of sports participation and recruit and engage volunteers in youth sports programming.
HHS developed the National Youth Sports Strategy in response to President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13824, which called for a national strategy to increase youth sports participation. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, youth need at least 60 minutes a day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity to stay healthy.
A high-profile launch of the strategy was attended by Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
“We know that when youth are engaged in sports, their life outcomes are more positive and bright," said Ivanka Trump, who holds the title of "special advisor" to her father.
"Young people taking part in sports have increased graduation rates, higher wages, greater self-confidence and are better at working with others. Yet, over the past decade, youth participation in sports has declined.
"The Trump administration is committed to reversing that trend and has implemented the first-ever national strategy. The work of the President’s Council is critical to increasing youth sports participation, regardless of background.”
The well-documented disparity and inequality across US society are reflected in the opportunities for young people to take part in sport.
According to official HHS figures, children from low-income families, children with disabilities, and girls are less likely to participate.
The new National Youth Sports Strategy has been designed to tackle the inequalities and among the commitments in the paper is a pledge to invest US$6.7m in grants to 18 communities to promote youth sports participation. The two-year Youth Engagement in Sports: Collaboration to Improve Adolescent Physical Activity and Nutrition (YES) grants, will support local partnerships that offer youth sports and nutrition activities for racial and ethnic minorities, girls, and disadvantaged youth, particularly in areas where few youth programs exist.
The strategy also includes a "legacy endowment" with a goal of raising US$100m to provide grants intended to drive increased participation.
“With this first-ever federal strategy to promote access to youth sports, President Trump is demonstrating his commitment to strengthening our communities and helping all Americans achieve better physical and mental health,” said Azar.
“The National Youth Sports Strategy and the new YES grants will help expand sports opportunities for all youth, especially those less likely to have access to youth sports today, including girls, racial and ethnic minorities, kids from low-income neighbourhoods, and kids with disabilities.”
• To download and read the entire National Youth Strategy, click here.