Twenty-five percent of Richmond Metro youth participated in organized sports last year, compared with 85 to 90 percent in the suburbs, according to a recent State University report entitled Richmond's Youth Sport Need Assessment. Currently, there are 40,000 children in the Richmond Metro area between the ages of 6 to 14. In contrast to the metro area, the suburbs have a full array of youth sports with strong financial support. This late start for urban children, especially urban girls, in organized sports robs them of the opportunity for physical activity, coaching, being part of a team, learning skills, and substantial time away from "negative recreation" (drugs, violence or sexual activities).
Clinical studies also show that sports and recreation programs can help youth establish lifelong, healthy, physical activity patterns. Regular physical activity can ward off life-threatening diseases; reduce feelings of depression and anxiety; help control weight and obesity; and build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints, according to the President's Council on Physical Fitness.
The children in the city's core must have the opportunity for a successful start in education and sport regardless of age, race, gender, family composition, income or community. In response to this significant disparity, YouthSports will be created to provide the sports program necessary for Richmond children to have equal opportunity for organized sports.
Thanks to a three-year matching grant from The John Ford Stevenson Foundation (JFSF), YouthSports and several corporate partners plan to utilize organized sports and physical activity programs to promote healthy development in youth.
The JFSF, based in San Francisco, CA, is the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. It concentrates its grantmaking in three goal areas: to assure that all Americans have access to basic health care at reasonable cost; to improve care and support for people with chronic health conditions; and to reduce the personal, social and economic harm caused by substance abuse; tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs.
Schools and health care centers will host sport registration. The JFSF renewable matching grant is based on the concept that local funding sources have the clearest understanding of their communities' needs. With matching contributions from local partners, the project will receive substantial funding.
Collaborating partners include:
With this base of support, YouthSports will raise additional money from program sponsors and fundraising campaigns.
The mission of YouthSports is to create a youth sport program in the Richmond Metro area increasing both sport participation rates and healthy development of the area's youth.