May 16 - Let's Talk Sports - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

May 16 - Let's Talk Sports

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GOOD MORNING DELMARVA - Worcester County schools first in nation to implement free program aimed at helping kids learn key life values.

Let's Talk Sports addresses bullying, respect and determination, among others.

Maryland's Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department is spearheading an effort that is enabling participating students throughout the Worcester County Public School district to strengthen key life skills through the national Let's Talk Sports program.

Through Let's Talk Sports, a free program created by the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) and piloted at the Ocean City Recreation Department last November, parents guide their children through an interactive series of engaging and thought-provoking questions via computer – from the comfort of home – that teach the importance of determination, confidence, respect, pride and anti-bullying, among many other key characteristics that are essential for leading successful lives as adults.

 "It is essential that children learn and understand the importance of respect, abiding by the rules, and participating in teamwork," said Dr. John Gaddis, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction for the school system.  "The Let's Talk Sports program is a perfect tool to supplement our character education programs.  We deeply appreciate the efforts of the Ocean City Recreation Department because, together, we can make a difference for our children and our communities." 

The innovative program enables parents and their child to participate at their own pace. Each section of the program targets an important life skill and scenarios are posed which challenge the child to choose the correct responses through a series of multiple choice questions. The host of the program is well-known NFL mom Deborah Johnson.

Since parents participate alongside their child in the program, there is the added benefit of productive discussions emerging, which can strengthen the parent-child bond while enhancing the learning experience.

"Through Let's Talk Sports we have had some wonderful class discussions on the many values kids can learn through their organized sports activities," said Tracey Drocella, a Physical Education teacher at Ocean City Elementary School. "The sooner we can begin to instill these characteristics in children and help them understand the important role sports can play in their overall development, the greater the chances that their sports experiences will be rewarding and really beneficial to them."   

Let's Talk Sports was piloted by the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department late last year and was an immediate success. Based on the positive feedback from parents who participated with their children, Al "Hondo" Handy, the recreation supervisor, is leading the effort to introduce the program to more children throughout the school district.

"Our recreation department was honored to be chosen to pilot this most impressive program that really shows the true value of what kids should be gaining from their sports participation," Handy said. "Now we want to help provide as many children as we can throughout the district with the opportunity to take part in this free program and reap the benefits."

Participants who complete the program receive the Increase Your Child's Sports Power! booklet, written by Dr. Michael Gray. The booklet is packed with valuable information on weight training for youth sports, nutrition, building speed, hydration, supplements, conditioning, stretching and warm-ups and cool downs, among other areas.

Each child can also print out a certificate acknowledging that they completed the program and are a Certified Youth Sports Kid.

"If what kids learn in the classroom is important then so too are the life lessons they learn while playing sports," said Fred Engh, founder and president of NAYS. "How great would it be if some day we reach the point where after the game instead of parents not only asking who won they also ask, ‘What did your team learn about determination today?"

Added Handy: "I am so proud of our community and how teachers throughout the district have embraced this program to enhance the learning experience of their students. It is truly wonderful to see children gaining a better understanding of how these important characteristics apply to their everyday life."

For more information on the program visit letstalksports.nays.org.

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