SMU Simmons Joins Forces With Children’s Health To Harness The Power of Sports To Improve Kids’ Well-Being

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU and Children’s Health through its Children’s Health Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine are launching a collaboration dedicated to leveraging the transformational power of sports to improve the health, activity levels and well-being of kids. The Youth Sports Impact Partnership, a unique university-hospital relationship, will use an evidence-based approach to improve access to youth sports, prevent injury and share age-appropriate training and development practices.

“The Children’s Health Andrews Institute understands the importance of sports and play as key parts of a healthy childhood,” says Chad Gilliland, senior director of Surgical Programs at Children’s Health Andrews Institute. “With our focus on keeping youth athletes on the field, we will take a proactive approach to making participation in youth sports healthy and accessible to all North Texas children.”

Despite broad participation and interest, unaddressed issues limit the positive impact of youth sports in America:

  • Access to organized youth sports is limited by family income. According to the 2020 Census, only 23.4 percent of children aged 6 to 11 living below the poverty line participate in sports.
  • The CDC reports that fewer than 24 percent of children are physically active every day, leading to serious health problems like childhood obesity.
  • Volunteer coaches are the backbone of organized youth sports, but only 10 percent receive any kind of relevant training, leading to youth injury and burnout, according to the National Alliance for Youth Sports.

In response, this collaboration will generate research in sports medicine and athletic development, which will be the basis of leadership training for coaches and continuing education for parents. Long-range plans for this collaboration include the creation of an index to measure access to play in North Texas communities, development of a training and injury-prevention program for school and volunteer coaches, and performance research on elite athletes to study best practices in training and coaching.

Researchers also plan to create social impact programming designed to break down the barriers to sports and active play often more prevalent in underserved communities.

The partnership will feature the expertise of Dr. James Andrews, founder and director of the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, and SMU biomechanist Peter Weyand, who directs the Locomotor Performance Lab in SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development – both internationally renowned for their work with athletes across a spectrum of ages and abilities.

Dr. Andrews is one of the founding members of Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center in Birmingham, Alabama, and Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, Florida. He also is cofounder of the American Sports Medicine Institute, a non-profit institute dedicated to injury prevention, education and research in orthopaedic and sports medicine.

Through sports medicine fellowships, he has mentored more than 350 orthopaedic and sports medicine fellows and more than 84 primary care sports medicine fellows. Andrews also serves as a team physician or consultant to Auburn University and University of Alabama athletic programs along with the NFL’s Washington football team and the New Orleans Saints.

“This partnership will benefit the field of sports medicine and the entire youth sports sector by focusing on injury prevention and performance through a collaborative effort for sports medicine professionals and coaches across the industry,” Andrews says.

Peter Weyand’s research on the scientific basis of human performance has appeared in top-tier scientific journals and continues to influence contemporary performance training practices.

“As a researcher, I have had the opportunity to observe the scientific benefits of exercise and activity,” Weyand says. “I look forward to the opportunity to use science to inspire kids to be active, have fun and learn all at the same time.”

Prior to joining SMU in 2008, Weyand directed research at Harvard University’s Concord Field Station and the Rice University Locomotion Laboratory. His research subjects have included athletes of all ages and abilities, including some of the swiftest runners on the planet, from Michael Johnson to Usain Bolt, and numerous Paralympic champions. His work has been featured in BBC, NPR, the New York Times, ESPN and Sports Illustrated.

Weyand holds the Glenn Simmons Endowed Professorship of Applied Physiology and Biomechanics in the Department of Applied Physiology and Wellness at SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

“SMU’s Simmons School is dedicated to developing and understanding evidence-based best practices for childhood and human development,” said Simmons School Dean Stephanie Knight. “Our faculty members are internationally known for their strengths in the science of human performance, coaching and leadership, and STEM education. This partnership offers a new way for Simmons to impact the lives of children in a positive way.”

For more information, please visit Youth Sports Impact Partnership or contact Greg Weatherford II, SMU Simmons School’s director of community engagement and special projects, at 214-768-1779 or gweatherford@smu.edu.

 

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