As a mom of two young, active kids, I’m thrilled that my son is taking an interest in sports, and my daughter seems anxious to join him. My 4-year-old son, Alex, is just starting to learn soccer and play on an organized team, while also taking hockey lessons (it helps that Dad was a semi-pro hockey player in Canada). And while she may have to wait a bit for hockey and soccer, my 2 year old daughter, Charlotte, will likely start a dance class this year.
But how do I raise my kids to get all of the benefits of sports, while also making sure they stay safe?
Today, Johnson & Johnson is partnering with Safe Kids Worldwide to launch a national awareness campaign to help keep young athletes safe and in the game. New research shows that each year, 1.35 million children are seen in emergency rooms for sports-related injuries. That’s one child every 25 seconds. And, as a parent new to all of this, I find that I have some simple things to learn that Alex’s grandparents wouldn’t have known.
For example, Alex will grow up with parents who will learn the signs and symptoms of concussion. Today we know that one of the most serious injuries to kids is concussions. Surprisingly, almost half of youth-related sports concussions occur in children ages 12 to 15 years old, which is particularly distressing since younger kids take longer to recover from concussions than older children. Concussions sometimes happen in even younger kids, so we will keep a particular eye on Alex’s hockey activity.
Here are easy tips for parents to make sure they are knowledgeable about keeping their kids healthy and in the game:
- Educate yourself about preventing serious sports-related injuries and share that knowledge with parents, athletes, coaches and officials. We’ll make it easy for you. Go to www.safekids.org for tips and information about a sports clinic near you.
- Learn skills to prevent injuries while playing sports. Instill smart hydration habits, exercises and stretches to prevent common injuries. With the help of U.S. Women’s Soccer player, Ali Krieger, we created a video that shows 7 things every young athlete can do to help prevent knee injuries. It’s a must-see for all of the young athletes in your life.
- Encourage athletes to speak up about injuries. Too often, athletes feel like they are letting down their teammates, coaches or parents if they ask to sit out. The truth is it takes more courage to speak up about an injury that can have serious and long-term effects.
- Support coaches and officials in making decisions to prevent serious injuries. A Safe Kids Worldwide and Johnson & Johnson 2012 survey, found half of coaches admit to being pressured by a parent or athlete to keep an injured athlete in the game. Coaches need to be educated and confident in making decisions that protect the long-term interests of young athletes.
For more information and resources on keeping your kids safe, visit SafeKids.org.
Johnson & Johnson is the Founding Sponsor of Safe Kids Worldwide.
Andrea Higham is the Director of Corporate Equity for Johnson & Johnson. She is also mother to two burgeoning young athletes, son Alex, 4, and daughter Charlotte, 2.