By Natalie Norman, Executive Director, Alabama Recreation and Parks Association
Frank Smith has a heart for children. As the director of Greene County Parks and Recreation, he’s been a leader in providing opportunities for young people to stay active, healthy and safe. When he read the story of Ronni Vinson, a little girl in south Alabama whose CoachSafely-trained mom helped save her life after a backyard accident, he saw an opportunity to bring that valuable knowledge to parents and youth coaches in his community.
He reached out to us at the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association, and his efforts led to the first ARPA/CoachSafely Community Huddle in Greene County. On Aug. 16th at the Robert Young Community Center in Eutaw, we met with more than 40 youth coaches, volunteers and parents to provide them with CoachSafely training in injury recognition and prevention. The training was led by certified athletic trainer Melinda Wilson, a sports medicine coordinator for Encore Rehabilitation.
Community leaders such as Alabama State Representative-Elect Curtis Travis attended to show their support for the introduction of the CoachSafely training. As Frank Smith said, “This program will help keep kids safe and teach our coaches and parents how to recognize and help prevent injuries with our youth sports programs.”
Steve Brown and I from the ARPA/CoachSafely Initiative were joined at the event by CoachSafely Foundation Founder and Chairman Jack Crowe and CEO Drew Ferguson. Our visit to Greene County reinforced our overall commitment to make a positive impact on every community in this state. The energy in the room that day could light up a ballpark.
Parks and recreation are essential to the well-being of our communities. We strive to reflect the communities we serve, and in that reflection, we hope to see equitable access to environments that sustain healthy and safe communities. On that day in Greene County, our strategy revolved – as it will continue to revolve – around the youth in the county to make their play environments as safe as possible by training their coaches.
As we move forward throughout Alabama, we will make every effort to provide equitable access to health and safety in the cities, towns, counties and communities across the state. Let’s get all of our coaches trained to empower them with a greater ability to recognize and prevent injury, which will help us keep more of our children in the game and allow them to enjoy the many benefits of youth sports participation.
The ARPA/CoachSafely Initiative provides that training at no cost to parents, youth coaches or their youth athletics associations. This program is a win-win for everyone involved.
Interested in setting up an ARPA/CoachSafely Community Huddle for your team, organization or community? Contact Natalie Norman at firstname.lastname@example.org