I’m always satisfied when I see sports influencers seeking to help our kids love sports and learn skills in a way that insures greater safety and satisfaction. Eric Capacchione, a senior at South Torrance High School [my son’s football alma mater], is an avid and successful student of former professional football player, Bobby Hosea. Changing the climate within any sports system is difficult, but we’re seeing serious attention given to the dangers of head first tackling.
Raised by the Pack July 27, 2010
Common sense, research, and Biblical tradition reveal that having at least five adults who relate to an adolescent with a “beyond-performance” agenda greatly enhance his or her movement toward responsible and interdependent maturity. All kids need a pack.
Vicki Hart writes for Bicycling Magazine and zeroed in on a young Thomas Jondall, who turned 18 in July. Thomas has grown up in challenging circumstances including estrangement from mom and dad, sleeping in parks, missing school, and yet, excelling in bike road racing. A group of cyclists and neighbors noticed and then took Thomas under their wings, including Dave and Katie Jonsson, who adopted young Thomas. He now has a home, a family, a high school degree, and a promising cycling career. This is a great story worth reading and emulating.
Gradually, the cyclists realized that the kids who seemed to have a great future ahead of him didn’t have much of a present.
Getting More Kids Riding to School July 3, 2010
How did you get to school as a kid? I remember both walking and riding my bike, but also weathered a short season on the bus. The Department of Transportation reports that in 1969 about 50% of children rode or walked to school, while today barely 13% do. Parents’ fear, bike-unfriendly streets, and distance are reasons given for the decline. Drive, walk, or ride past schools as they start today, but be careful, because their driveways [originally designed for a handful of cars] are packed with impatient and speedy parents dropping their kids off. Riding and walking are healthy alternatives to the crush of cars, helping kids not only slow down but get in shape.
Michelle Hamilton, in the recent issue of Bicycling Magazine, writes that it is possible to get more kids out of cars and riding more between home and school. Here are a couple examples Hamilton highlights:
- Alpine Elementary School in Alpine, Utah received a $12,000 grant from Safe Routes to School to partner with their city, adding “crosswalks, school-zone signs and bike racks, and organized parent-led biking and walking groups – key components in easing parents’ fears.” The number of kids getting out of cars and onto bikes or their own two feet increased from 32 to 50 percent.
- Starkville, Mississippi is stripping bike lanes from all its sub-divisions to city schools.
- Taylor, Texas is in the process of completing a network of trails connecting city institutions for ease of riding and walking.
- The League of American Bicyclist’s (LAB) Bicycle Friendly Community program increased their program from 48 to 140 cities in the last five years.
- Michelle Obama is encouraging more kids to walk and ride to school through her Let’s Move initiative.
- Ray LaHood, U.S. secretary of transportation, is determined to integrate the needs of bicyclists into all federally funded road projects.
Here are six ways Hamilton suggests cities and individuals can get more kids riding to school:
- Make it a group effort – with city government, parents’ groups, neighborhood coalitions, and bike clubs working together.
- Champion the cause – it takes an individual to step up in any city and make it happen.
- Get help – explore available grants listed at SRTS’s guide [saferoutesinfo.org/guide/steps/index.cfm].
- Use incentive programs – gifts made available by schools for miles ridden or walked, potentially combining incentives with support of worthy causes.
- Involve kids – using students as safety officers, with parental or school supervision.
- Educate – by holding education classes for kids and parents. One school launched a “drive-safely” campaign and lowered the percentage of parents exceeding the 25-mph speed limit from 59 to 21 percent.
Changing mindsets and lifestyles takes lots of time, but cities across the country are discovering the joy of using their own power to get to and from school. Get out and ride, and take your kids along!
Some things are bigger than baseball May 19, 2010
John Sikorra is a high school student with a passionate love for baseball. He also is suffering from a rare, fatal, neuro-degenerative disorder known as Batten disease which has taken his eyesight in childhood and now is compromising his cognitive skills as well.
John has hung around his baseball team at Chaminade High School in West Hills, CA dreaming of the possibility of one day swinging for the fences. Two opposing coaches rose above normal competition and gave this kid a chance. Read the story, it will make you smile and restore your hope for goodness to happen to kids.
- I love the commitment and presence of John’s dad, Joe.
- I am moved by the love of the game – which allows kids to play with abandon and not performance.
- I support caring for an individual student – setting aside protocol and letting him shine if just for a moment.
Robin Laird is a high school athlete who has a relatively centered sense of who she is and what role sports play in her life. She has risen above the often dysfunctional adult-driven competitive nature of youth sports since she knows that winning is thrilling but not self-defining.
Sports often becomes a rigid system that supersedes what is best for kids – the participants – and perpetuates adult-driven agendas for success. Good for Robin. She has navigated an unfortunate misstep and will move forward into her college journey with poise and respect. Others are not so fortunate.