Leveling the Playing Field: Promoting Sports Activities During a Pandemic

The Office on Women’s Health OWH)  shared information from RADM Felicia Collins, M.D., MPH, FAAP, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health, Director, Office of Minority Health, and Dorothy Fink, M.D., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Women’s Health, Director.

He wrote that just five months ago, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the game as we know it for youth access to sports in schools and in communities. As the nation celebrates National Youth Sports Week this week, we applaud the grantees of the Youth Engagement in Sports (YES)  Initiative, who responded with resiliency and creativity to continue supporting sports and activity for young people.

As part of the National Youth Sports Strategy released in September 2019, the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) and Office on Women’s Health (OWH) collaboratively awarded more than $6.7 million across 18 sites. The YES Initiative supports collaborations to improve youth physical activity and nutrition via increased sports participation. The focus is for racial/ethnic minorities, girls, kids with disabilities, and socio-economically disadvantaged youth in grades 6-8, particularly those from communities with lower rates of sports participation or limited access to athletic or recreational areas.

OMH and OWH are focusing on youth sports because they are an important source of physical activity and can have significant health benefits for those who play. They also provide psychosocial benefits such as higher self-esteem, improved life skills, and strong school performance.

During National Women’s Health Week in May, the Honorable Nan Hayworth, MD, a member of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition, shared important insights about celebrating active and healthy women and girls during these challenging times. We can build on her wisdom by sharing lessons learned from those who are actively promoting sports within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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