Organized and wellstructured youth sports bring many benefits to the children and families of our community.

Playing youth sports helps children meet new people and develop friendships. Team sports give the youth (and their families) an opportunity to socialize with others and become a bigger part of the community. There is an opportunity to recognize how coaches and parents have given back as volunteers, and quite possibly they can become volunteers for life.

Youth sports promote health and fitness. Most sports practice multiple times and with weekly games provide an outlet to be active and improve overall wellness (sleep, stronger muscles, and bones, increased cardiovascular fitness).

This builds a foundation for a healthy lifestyle, along with strong mental wellbeing. Sports can boost selfesteem and confidence in young athletes.

Whether it is on a court or field, sports provide the opportunity for children to learn how to face and overcome challenges. Players may be afraid of interaction with others or having the pressure of a game on them.

However, by playing they can learn how to overcome these elements and build resilience at a young age, which will carry through to adulthood. A competitive sports situation aids in learning how to compete with one another, along with the importance of teamwork.

The Island Recreation Center offers these learning opportunities through youth soccer, basketball, flag football, Gator football, cheer, and camps and clinics through the summer months.

Sports can offer an outlet for children to learn about teamwork and how each individual can play a specific role on a team. Understanding their role teaches accountability and helps enhance problem-solving skills and team problem-solving.

Team sports teach the concepts of winning and losing. The true definition of a winner is to recognize how to lose and how to behave after losing.

Parents and families benefit from youth sports as well.

It allows parents not only to be a part of their children’s lives, but it also creates the opportunity to socialize with others and build new lasting friendships. Chelsea Pearson is the Athletics Program Coordinator at the Island Recreation Center.

Chelsea Pearson is the Athletics Program Coordinator at the Island Recreation Center.