“The formula for success is remarkably simple. At-risk youth, like all people, need social interactions and investments of time from others. They also need to be provided an opportunity to achieve positive outcomes. Sports provides all of the above and more. It provides mentorship, friendship, leadership and achievement through skill development. Sports also positively occupies time that is often used in less positive activities by at-risk youth.” – Const. Ian Macdonald, Abbotsford Police Department / Kidsport volunteer
A Professional Perspective
Exercise improves thinking and learning, attention and focus, emotional regulation, self-control, stress management, anxiety and depression, the list goes on. There are tons of benefits for child development and mental health that can result from activity.
According to Dr. Ashley Miller from BC Children’s Hospital, there are countless positive impacts that exercise and physical activity can have on the development of youth. Miller says she has seen multiple examples of youth who are at-risk getting involved with sport and it becoming their central focus, giving them a sense of purpose. She also emphasizes how important it is to improve mental health and well-being, particularly in youth.
One of the difficulties that comes with youth sports, Miller stated, is that there can be so much focus on performance and achievement that result in kids dropping their sports at an early age. The opportunity she sees from these programs is that they allow at-risk youth to keep a sporting identity into their teenage years and they provide options for the non-elite.