“Mahoney suggested that participation in voluntary, school-based, extracurricular activities increases school participation and achievement because it facilitates:

(a) the acquisition of interpersonal skills and positive social norms
(b) membership in prosocial peer groups
(c) stronger emotional and social connections to one’s school.

In turn, these assets should increase mental health, school engagement, school achievement, and long-term educational outcomes and should decrease participation in problem behaviors, provided that problem behaviors are not endorsed by the peer cultures that emerge in these activities.” [Mahoney et al]

“Participation in extracurricular and service learning activities has also been linked to increases in interpersonal competence, self-concept, high school grade point average (GPA), school engagement, and educational aspirations” [Elder & Conger, 2000; Marsh & Kleitman, 2002; Youniss, McLellan, & Yates, 1999], as well as to higher educational achievement, better job quality, more active participation in the political process and other types of volunteer activities, continued sport engagement, and better mental health during young adulthood [Barber, Eccles, & Stone, 2001; Glancy, Willits, & Farrell, 1986; Marsh, 1992; Youniss, McLellan, Su, & Yates, 1999]

Sports participation has been linked to lower likelihood of school dropout and higher rates of college attendance, particularly for low achieving and blue-collar male athletes (Gould & Weiss, 1987; Marsh & Kleitman, 2003; McNeal, 1995).

These studies provide good evidence that participating in extracurricular activities is associated with both short and long term indicators of positive development including school achievement and educational attainment. Some of these relations hold even after the other obvious predictors of such outcomes are controlled–giving us some confidence that these effects do not just reflect the selection factors that lead to participation in the first place.[Extracurricular activities and adolescent development. Journal of Social Issues, December 22, 2003, Eccles, Jacquelynne S.; Barber, Bonnie L.; Stone, Margaret; Hunt, James]

“How young people spend their time outside of school has consequences for their development.” Organized extracurricular activities, after-school programs, and youth organization have significantly escalated. Research reveals positive outcomes “of participation for academic, educational, social, civic, and physical development”.

Combining this with the potential for safety and supervision provided by organized activities while parents are working has increased local, state, and Federal authorities to increase these opportunities.

However, there is concern that these organized activities have become excessive for youth. “Over-scheduling” is thought to result from pressure from adults (parents, coaches, teachers) to achieve and attain long-term educational and career goals.
Others say the increase in these activities and outside pressures contribute to poor youth psychosocial adjustment and to undermine their relationships with parents and the function of the family circle

The study attemped to resolve the question. The result:

“(1) The primary motivations for participation in organized activities are intrinsic (e.g., excitement and enjoyment, to build competencies, and to affiliate with peers and activity leaders). Pressures from adults or educational/career goals are seldom given as reasons for participation;”

“(2) American youth average about 5 hours/week participating in organized activities. At any given time, roughly 40% of young people in the US do not participate in organized activities and those who do typically spend less than 10 hours/week participating. Many alternative leisure activities (e.g., educational activities, playing games, watching television) consume as much or considerably more time. However, a very small subgroup of youth (between 3 and 6 percent) spends 20 or more hours/week participating;”

(3) “Youth who participate demonstrate healthier functioning on such indicators ranging from academic achievement, school completion, post secondary educational attainment, psychological adjustment, and lowered rates of smoking and drug use, to the quantity and quality of interactions with their parents.

(4) Very high levels of involvement in organized activity participation (e.g., 20 or more hours/week), adjustment appeared more positive than, than youth who did not participate.

Participation is associated with positive developmental outcomes. for most youth. “The well-being of youth who do not participate in organized activities is reliably less positive compared to youth who do participate.”
[Organized Activity Participation, Positive Youth Development,
and the Over-Scheduling Hypothesis, Joseph L. Mahoney, Angel L. Harris, and Jacquelynne S. Eccles, Volume XX, Number IV, Social Policy Report, 2006]

Balance, moderation, time management, appropriate parental support and proper Child Custodial Protection and Coaching Supervision and Athlete Safety First are necessary for Athlete-Centred Sports and Athlete Rights.

The negative outcomes of sports are the result of poor coaching, parental pressures and preventable, non-accidental sports injuries. [The Negative Effects of Youth Sports, Livestrong.com, Steve Silverman]

“Participation in organized sports provides an opportunity for young people to increase their physical activity and develop physical and social skills. However, when the demands and expectations of organized sports exceed the maturation and readiness of the participant, the positive aspects of participation can be negated.”

“The nature of parental or adult involvement can also influence the degree to which participation in organized sports is a positive experience for preadolescents. This updates a previous policy statement on athletics for preadolescents and incorporates guidelines for sports participation for preschool children. Recommendations are offered on how pediatricians can help determine a child’s readiness to participate, how risks can be minimized, and how child-oriented goals can be maximized.”

“To optimize the safety and benefits of organized sports for children and preadolescents and to preserve this valuable opportunity for young people to increase their physical activity levels, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:

1. Organized sports programs for preadolescents should complement, not replace, the regular physical activity that is a part of free play, child-organized games, recreational sports, and physical education programs in the schools. Regular physical activity should be encouraged for all children whether they participate in organized sports or not.

2. Pediatricians are encouraged to help assess developmental readiness and medical suitability for children and preadolescents to participate in organized sports and assist in matching a child’s physical, social, and cognitive maturity with appropriate sports activities.

3. Pediatricians can take an active role in youth sports organizations by educating coaches about developmental and safety issues, monitoring the health and safety of children involved in organized sports, and advising committees on rules and safety.
4. Pediatricians are encouraged to take an active role in identifying and preserving goals of sports that best serve young athletes.

5. Additional research and resources are needed to:
a. determine the optimal time for children to begin participating in organized sports;
b. identify safe and effective training strategies for growing and developing athletes;
c. educate youth sports coaches about unique needs and characteristics of young athletes; and
d. develop effective injury prevention strategies.”
[Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness, 2000-2001, Reginald L. Washington, MD, Chairperson, PEDIATRICS Vol. 107 No. 6 June 2001, pp. 1459-1462, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS:Organized Sports for Children and Preadolescents, Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness and Committee on School Health]



Physical activity, sports and recreation are universal languages and pastimes. Everyone understands their language and positive benefits. 3. 4. 5. 6.

The benefits from sports and recreation participation are universal for all children, including children with disabilities. Sports and recreation participation for disabled children and youth “promotes inclusion, minimizes deconditioning, optimizes physical functioning, and enhances overall well-being.” 1.

Disabled children who participate will improve social interaction, good health habits, diet, quality social relationships, economic growth and physical and mental well being. Regular exercise will reduce obesity, diabetes and heart disease to name only a few of the medical positive outcomes. 2.

“Despite these benefits, children with disabilities are more restricted in their participation, have lower levels of fitness, and have higher levels of obesity than their peers without disabilities.”

Pediatricians and parents may overestimate the risks and overlook the benefits of physical activity in children with disabilities. Each child’s participation must made after well informed parents consider children’s overall

• health status
• individual activity preferences
• safety precautions
• appropriate programs and equipment availability 1.

Even after parents understand the many benefits of children’s participations and are sold on sports and recreation activities, families must identify other family limitations and barriers, such as financial and societal obstacles to participation.

The cost for sports and recreation participation, including cheer, tumbling and gymnastics, is often cost-prohibitive. The family’s financial burden is often significantly greater than they have funds for the endeavor.

In addition, all hindrances need to be directly identified and addressed from the perspective of local, state, and federal laws such as Americans with Disabilities Act.
Some Camps ans Associations envision an alternative solution for the financial burden of cheer, tumbling and gymnastics participation for disabled, disadvantaged, indigent children, a health disparity population.

Thoughtfulness is aimed at caring for the development of the health and welfare of children and their potential can be enhanced through

• Philanthropy
• State and federal grants

These two resources are crucial. Private philanthropic initiatives and state and federal grants for children’s good, that focus on disabled children’s quality of life, are ancient traditional global initiatives. Philanthropy and grants are fundamental humanist core values.

Every disabled child is important and unique, Each child deserves to be treated fairly with compassion and humanity. The cooperation of all people are necessary for disabled children’s health, welfare, development, human rights, peace and justice.

“Pediatricians are urged to promote the participation of all children with disabilities in competitive and recreational sports and physical activities. The benefits are substantial.” 1.

1. Promoting the Participation of Children With Disabilities in Sports, Recreation, and Physical Activities by Nancy A. Murphy, MD, Paul S. Carbone, MD and the Council on Children With Disabilities PEDIATRICS Vol. 121 No. 5 May 2008, pp. 1057-1061 (doi:10.1542/peds.2008-0566)
2. Athlete Safety 1st, Micheal B. Minix, Sr., M.D.
3. Education.com; The Benefits of Team Sports; Lucy Rector Filppu
4. “The Sunday Times”; All Together Now — The Unifying Power of Sports; Simon Barnes; July 2007
5. UN News Centre: UN Envoy Stresses Role of Sports as Unifying Force Among Nations, Peoples; June 2008
6. “L.A. Times”; Sports Show the Power to Unify; Diane Pucin; February 2010


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