Getting children involved in sports can be life changing — but not because they’re one step closer to making the pros or even the middle school team. It simply helps promote a healthy lifestyle while teaching fundamentals to keep them safe, healthy and happy.
Indy Eleven Soccer
Rumor has it, your little one was a great kicker in the womb. So, why not kick a ball around the yard and introduce them to soccer? For toddlers, try simple skills and kick the ball back and forth for quality time together. As they get older, add a goal. But don’t expect Pele just yet. Their attention span is short and too much pressure to perform can ruin the game for them.
“Years of sports research and science tell us that specialization in sports at an early age can be harmful to a child’s body and self-esteem,” says Jason Greene, manager of Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience at The Children’s Museum. “We dive into what kids want to get out of sports. It’s interesting to hear them say what they want most is to do their best, please their grownups and feel part of a team! Winning is usually at the bottom of the list.”
Sports Legends coaches are trained to teach age-appropriate skills and are part of the Positive Coaching Alliance, which means they understand that sports can also be an important avenue to learn life’s most important lessons. Coaches weave that into all their activities, and now they’ll be working with professional athletes from the Indy Eleven soccer team.
“We can’t wait to see the faces of kids as they meet some of our athletes during player appearances,” says Greg Stremlaw, Indy Eleven president and CEO. “It’s a great way for us to give back to our community through camps and other opportunities that will make the sport more accessible for children.” Look for exclusive offers for general and special event admission at The Children’s Museum and Indy Eleven games at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium.
USA Track & Field (USATF)
Families should also get ready to run, jump and throw at the museum as part of a new, long-term partnership with USATF.
Children and adults are encouraged to run a 50 meter dash and compare their time to USATF legend Wilma Rudolph, sprint down the runway, leap into a long jump pit and step into the ring to throw a shot put.
“RunJumpThrow has consistently provided meaningful opportunities for kids to get excited about physical activity,” says Max Siegel, USATF CEO. “A fun and positive introduction to the basics can be a catalyst in developing a lifelong love of sports, which is why we’re thrilled to unveil a permanent Hershey/USATF RunJumpThrow experience at the museum.”
Jackie Joyner-Kersee won six Olympic medals with USATF while competing at four separate Olympic games in the 1980s and 90s, and says she wishes she would’ve had a track like this when she was younger. She even wrote a children’s book, Running for the Gold: Connecting Kids to Dreams, to inspire kids to believe in themselves and overcome challenges. “I believe in meeting people where they are, but being able to encourage them to believe the impossible is probable,” Joyner-Kersee says.
You might not know it, but some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts involve track and field. They are also the country’s No. 1 high school and junior high school participatory sport — not to mention, more than 30 million adults run for fun and as a hobby in the United States. Finally, it could be great training for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, whether you walk or run one of the events.