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News & Press Releases

USING SPORTS TO INCREASE ACADEMIC OUTCOMES FOR ELEMENTARY YOUTH

Elementary schools are in a great position to bring afterschool programming that breaks the inequities of youth sports, while also increasing academic achievement for our youth.

As we navigate the murky waters of distance education across the nation, many children have lost what they needed most: The opportunity to stay active playing team sports with friends and having a positive community that supports their growth and development. Many children have seen these opportunities taken away due to safety concerns of the current health crisis. However, as our nation moves towards reopening schools and “catching students up” academically, the need for extracurricular and sports opportunities will be critical for our most disadvantaged youth.

INCREASED ACCESSIBILITY

“This sports program changed my child’s life,” are reactions and testimonies often heard said from parents to our program staff. The Greater Youth Sports Association (GYSA) provides elementary schools a positive youth development afterschool program that leverages sports to teach every child the importance of education, social emotional skills and character. While the kids love the aspect of being able to engage in school-based sports—wearing uniforms and having fun with their friends—they’re also developing and growing their critical skills that last a lifetime.

In a year where sports were cancelled, GYSA created a virtual sports program that provided every child a ball and a plan to stay active and play the sport they love, even from home. Keeping sports accessible for all children is the number one goal. GYSA is very intentional in its program curriculum, focusing on developing the life skills that translate to academic and future success.

INCREASING DAILY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY LEVELS

Regular participation in physical activity and higher levels of physical fitness have been linked to improved academic performance. Coming off a year (and possibly more) of distance education with sedentary life changes at an early age could lead to devastating health issues. Increases in screen time and decreases in daily physical activity levels could cause more children to fall into overweight/obese categories. Prior to the pandemic, one in three kids in the U.S. were overweight or obese. Because children spend so much time at school, schools have a unique opportunity to help children become healthier and more active. GYSA’s afterschool sports program allows children to receive up to 240 more minutes of physical activity during the school week.

IMPROVED SOCIAL EMOTIONAL SKILLS

Research has demonstrated the significant role of SEL in promoting healthy student development and academic achievement. The GYSA sports program delivers weekly SEL lessons to participating students focusing on areas such as self-management, responsible decision-making, self-awareness and relationship skills. These lessons are taught during hands-on lessons and experienced in a team sport environment with the coach as the mentor. Students not only learn sports skills but also the more important life skills that set a foundation for academic achievement.

With programming operating in two different states and positive year over year growth, GYSA is on pace to achieving its grand goal of impacting 100,000 children each year. The need for accessible sport opportunities have never been greater. 70% of low-income children never play a sport, primarily due to the costs. Accessibility has become a serious issue impacting equity in youth sports, and the benefits are too great to let these inequities continue. More school-based solutions need to be provided at the elementary level to ensure a successful future for our youth. Sports have a unique ability to engage and develop our children into healthy productive leaders of tomorrow.

https://naaweb.org/professional-development/item/1512-using-sports-to-increase-academic-outcomes-for-elementary-youth

Devonte Woodson M.Ed., is a graduate of Washington State University and Founder of Greater Youth Sports Association. Woodson is also an NAA Executive member and a 2021 NAA Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders Honoree.

News & Press Releases

SNHD Sponsors 80 Children In GYSA’s Ball & A…

Greater Youth Sports Association (GYSA), the leader in after-school, elementary sports programming in Southern Nevada, is pleased to announce that Southern Nevada Health District has officially signed on to sponsor 80 low-income children to participate in the GYSA Ball & A Plan program.

The Ball & A Plan program is a deviation from GYSA’s regular programming in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, which includes three sports seasons (soccer, basketball and football) will provide enrolled children with a GYSA custom sports ball and access to the Virtual Sports Academy which includes weekly sports instruction, weekly Social Emotional lessons and a character development workshop. Children will also have the opportunity to participate in the end of season Jamboree, which allows them to put their skills to the test in safe environment.

CCSD is currently facing $38 million in budget cuts, which means many schools have been forced to make tough decisions when it comes to cutting programs that provide extra support for their children. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has created less access than usual when it comes to extracurricular programming. SNHD’s donation will help ensure that GYSA is able to continue to serve children across Clark County despite budget cuts and the implications of COVID.

“We are so grateful to have received this donation which will help us provide much needed support to our children who are facing even more barriers than usual due to the challenging times we are currently facing in our Nation”, said GYSA Founder, Devonte Woodson.

The Health District works to assess, protect, and promote the health, the environment, and the well-being of Southern Nevada communities, residents, and visitors. Their donation to GYSA aligns perfectly with this mission and reinforces SNHD’s commitment to their community.

Nicole Bungum, Supervisor of the Office of Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion at SNHD explained, “One of our goals at the Health District is to increase the number of youth who are physically active and to ensure that everyone has access to safe, affordable opportunities for physical activity. We are pleased to support the work of Greater Youth Sports through our Move Your Way – Youth Initiative. Greater Youth Sports provides opportunities for youth to be physically active, especially youth who might not otherwise have opportunities to participate in sports. Their programs stress not only the importance of sport and physical activity but also character and education as well”. While our Nation continues to face a myriad of challenges it is actions like these that will help improve our community’s health, well-being, and future! 

 

News & Press Releases

GYSA Recognized by President’s Council on Sports, Fitness &…

Local Nevada Non-Profit, Greater Youth Sports Association becomes an NYSS Champion.

(Las Vegas, NV) – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is pleased to recognize Greater Youth Sports Association (GYSA) as one of the first organizations to join the National Youth Sports Strategy (NYSS) Champion program. HHS released the NYSS in September 2019 in response to Presidential Executive Order 13824, which called for a national strategy to increase youth sports participation. The NYSS is the first Federal roadmap with actionable strategies to increase participation in youth sports, increase awareness of the benefits of youth sports participation, monitor and evaluate youth sports participation, and recruit and engage volunteers in youth sports programming.

NYSS aims to unite U.S. youth sports culture around a shared vision: that one day all youth will have the opportunity, motivation, and access to play sports — regardless of their race, ethnicity, sex, ability, or ZIP code. NYSS Champions represent organizations that are working towards achieving this vision.

As an NYSS Champion, GYSA has demonstrated their organization’s support of youth sports and commitment to the NYSS vision. GYSA will be recognized along with other NYSS Champions on health.gov as part of a growing network of organizations partnering with HHS to improve the youth sports landscape in America.

“We know children who obtain regular physical activity gain important physical and mental health benefits, which are more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic,” explains ADM Brett Giroir, M.D., Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS. “I’m thrilled to acknowledge the work of the NYSS Champions who are furthering the mission of the NYSS and helping to foster a lifelong love of sports and physical activity for our Nation’s youth.”

“GYSA is ecstatic to be one of the first organizations to join the NYSS Champions platform”, said Annalise Lullo, Co-Founder of GYSA. “At GYSA we believe sports can build success in the lives of our children by improving both their mental and physical health. We also believe that all children deserve access to sports and that cost should never be the reason a child does not participate. Therefore, it is with excitement that we work with HHS to achieve this new vision for youth sports.”

About Greater Youth Sports Association

GYSA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based out of Southern Nevada. GYSA believes that sports can build success in the lives of our youth. Sadly, more than 70% of low-income children do not participate in organized sports, often due to cost. GYSA created their signature program, the School Sports SolutionSM to combat this issue. Providing after-school sports programming to at-risk, low-income children is just one facet of the program, however. GYSA also provides enrolled children with character development workshops, weekly social emotional lessons and reading mentorship.

GYSA aims to transform the lives of low-income children by providing them with affordable programming that improves their physical and mental health and lays the foundation for a successful future.

About the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition (PCSFN) is a Federal Advisory Committee run by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) and plays a vital role in keeping the Nation healthy. PCSFN and ODPHP accomplish this by setting national health goals and objectives and supporting programs, services, and education activities that improve the health of all Americans. PCSFN and ODPHP are part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To learn more about ODPHP visit health.gov.

The NYSS Champion is a service mark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Used with permission. Participation by GYSA does not imply endorsement by HHS/ODPHP.

News & Press Releases

Raider Cody Podcast and Raider Nation Raised More Than…

On June 8th, Raider Cody and Kenny King Jr., creators of the Raider Cody Podcast, announced that they were raising funds for local Las Vegas non-profit, Greater Youth Sports Association (GYSA). The money raised will go to providing after-schools sports programming, reading mentorship and character development for at-risk elementary age children in Southern Nevada.

Raider Cody, who is viewed as a premier Raiders talk host and voice of Raiders fans, had been looking for a way to support the new Raiders community in Las Vegas, when he came across GYSA. After speaking with GYSA Co-Founder, Devonte Woodson, they decided to aim to raise $5,000 which would provide programming to one partner school and approximately 100 children.

Raider Nation wasted no time in supporting the cause and within several days had raised nearly $1,500. The goal of hitting $5,000 seemed likely considering the fundraiser was to run until July 4th (former Raiders Owner, Al Davis’ birthday). And reach the goal they did. Nearly two weeks before the end of the fundraiser, Cody announced that fans had raised $20,000! This will impact four partner schools and more than 400 at-risk children.  

Nearly two weeks before the end of the fundraiser, Cody announced that fans had raised $20,000!

This Friday, July 3rd, 2020 at 10 a.m. the Raider Cody podcast will be live in Las Vegas at Stage Door Casino, where they will present GYSA with the funds raised. The event is open to the public and will be a great way to introduce the Las Vegas community to the strength of Raider Nation.

WHAT: Live Raider Cody Podcast and Check Presentation to GYSA

WHERE: Stage Door Casino, 4000 Linq Ln, Las Vegas, NV 89109

WHEN: 10:00 a.m.

Donations can still be made at: www.raidercody.com/greateryouth 

News & Press Releases

Raider Nation Already Giving to the Las Vegas Community

The Raiders have not yet played a game in their new home, but Raider Nation is already making an impact in the Las Vegas community by supporting local non-profit, Greater Youth Sports Association.

LAS VEGAS, Nevada. June 15, 2020. If you live in Las Vegas, Nevada, you can hardly miss the new stadium being constructed west of the strip for the Las Vegas Raiders. The city was thrown into a state of excitement in 2017 when the NFL officially approved the Raiders move from Oakland to Las Vegas and has been anxiously awaiting the team’s arrival. 

While the Raiders have not yet played in Las Vegas, Raider Nation has wasted no time in sharing their Silver and Black pride with the city. On June 8th, Raider Cody and Kenny King Jr., creators of the Raider Cody Podcast, announced they were partnering with local non-profit, Greater Youth Sports Association (GYSA), to raise much needed funds for their mission. So far, Raider Nation has come together to raise $1,500 towards the $5,000 goal and will continue to raise money until July 4th, Former Raiders Owner Al Davis’s Birthday. Raider Cody is viewed as a premier Raiders talk host and voice of Raiders fans. 

The money raised will go to providing after-school sports programming to at-risk elementary age children. Sadly, 7 out of 10 low-income children do not participate in sports, often due to cost. GYSA, believes that all children deserve an opportunity to play and have been working since 2017 to make sure this happens for children who need it the most. If met, the money raised can impact up to 120 elementary-age children and give them the opportunity to play sports including flag football, basketball and soccer right at their school! GYSA does not only offer affordable elementary school sports but also weekly reading mentorship, a comprehensive SEL curriculum, and character development workshops. 

So, even though we haven’t yet seen the Raiders run through the tunnel at Allegiant Stadium, we have certainly felt their presence in our city, and are more excited than ever to truly become a part of #RaiderNation. 

To join Raider Cody in his goal of raising $5,000 please visit www.raidercody.com/greateryouth 

GYSA Blog

Youth Sports Healing Trauma and Other Coping Techniques

2020 has been a challenging year to say the least. From the COVID-19 pandemic and all the implications that came with it, to the ongoing systemic racism that plagues our nation, these challenging times have been difficult for many to navigate and hardly improve the mental health of our communities. In fact, some researchers warn that the coronavirus pandemic alone could leave long-lasting emotional trauma (cnbc.com).

The state of our country today certainly could induce trauma, but the U.S. is no stranger to it. An estimated 70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime and more than two-thirds of children report one traumatic event prior to the age of 16. Those at even higher risk for experiencing trauma and repeated trauma are those at an economic disadvantage. In fact, the American Psychology Association stated that exposure to trauma is directly related to socioeconomic standing.

Two-thirds of children report one traumatic event prior to the age of 16.

At Greater Youth Sports Association (GYSA) our mission is to support children, particularly those in low-income communities. But how do we provide the additional support needed given all these children are up against. Trauma, whether it comes from within the home or at larger scales, carries many implications, especially for children. Let’s look at these now.

The Implications of Trauma

Anyone who has studied the Vietnam war knows how dangerous the implications of trauma can be. PTSD is one of the most talked about disorders related to trauma, but hand to hand combat is just one of the many ways a person can experience it. Trauma comes in many forms, including abuse, neglect, natural disasters, death, illness, to name a few and can have a multitude of impacts on mental and physical health. Some common symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Chronic Pain
  • Lack of Self Respect
  • Addiction
  • Hormone Imbalance
  • Muscle Tension
  • Immune Dysfunction / Chronic Inflammation
  • Cardiovascular Disease

These are just a few of the symptoms of trauma that many children and adults suffer from today.

Childhood trauma is all too common, particularly in low-income households. Keep in mind that trauma literally reprograms and rewires the brain. This is why childhood trauma doesn’t simply fade over time, and often affects a child’s biological, cognitive and physical development and increases risk of lifelong emotional and physical problems.

Solutions to Trauma

But, there is good news when it comes to trauma. The brain’s wiring is not set in stone! There are steps that can be taking to rewire the brain and overcome trauma and many that can be implemented without professional intervention. Please note, in cases of severe trauma it is best to engage with a healthcare professional.

Sports as a Solution

GYSA Co-Founder, Devonte Woodson, and 2020 Basketball Particpant

At GYSA we believe that sports can build success on many levels. In addition to the obvious benefits such as improved physical activity levels, sportsmanship and discipline, sports when implemented correctly can also have many mental health benefits. In fact, JAMA Pediatrics published a study showing that people who had experienced traumatic events as children had improved mental health outcomes as adults if they participated in team sports during their adolescence.

Sports can teach many life lessons including resilience, grit and determination. Team sports also allow for improved self-esteem and better social interactions. GYSA conveys these important lessons during practices and games by using Social Emotional Learning (SEL) techniques.

Social Emotional Learning

SEL is the process through which children learn about and manage their emotions, set positive goals, show empathy for others, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

SEL is important when dealing with trauma because it places strong emphasis on evaluating and controlling emotion. It allows children to look inward and understand their feelings. A common trait in trauma is to bury pain when it occurs, but SEL encourages the opposite. SEL also places major emphasis on establishing and maintaining positive relationships. Relationships can have a major influence on mental health. If surrounded by a strong support system, children are able to handle traumatic situations with more confidence and hopefully avoid long-lasting effects.

The reason GYSA chose to convey these important techniques through sports is because we wanted children to really feel and relate to the message. Nelson Mandela once said, “[Sport] speaks to youth in a language they understand”. We are working to share these lessons in a language our children can easily understand in the hopes that they will continue to use them as they learn and grow.  

PERMA

We believe sports have the power to impact and improve the lives of at-risk children across the country, however there are many ways to cope with trauma and maintain happiness. Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology, came up with a model that delineates what we need to achieve happiness. Striving to integrate the elements of this model into daily life and teaching it to children at a young age may help in reversing the impacts of trauma. The PERMA model is as follows:

  • Positive Emotion

This may seem obvious, but positive emotion is powerful when it comes to overcoming trauma and being truly happy. Positive emotion is developed out of optimism, positivity, and enjoyment. Some techniques that can be used to induce positive emotion include participating in hobbies or activities that bring real enjoyment! This might be participating in a sport, going hiking, etc. Find what truly brings you joy and practice it. The key here is not to confuse true joy with pleasure. Another helpful activity for increasing positive emotion, is keeping a gratitude journal. Each day write down all the things you are grateful for. Over time your brain will start to more easily recognize the good things in your life over the bad.

  • Engagement

Engagement involves finding activities that demand our full attention. This is that activity that makes “Time Fly” and that puts you in a state of flow, completely and totally focused on that one thing and oblivious to the outside world. This involves trying new things, maybe it’s playing sports, dancing, singing, playing an instrument, etc. Explore different things and don’t stop until you find that thing that you truly love.

  • Relationships

Humans need love and social interaction. We are social beings and cannot function at a high level without human connection. Make time to spend with the people who mean the most. Also, make sure that the people you do spend the most time with align with the happiness you want in your life.

  • Meaning

Having a purpose in life is necessary for happiness! Unfortunately, our world puts a lot of stock in material wealth, but money is often not the gateway to happiness. Finding your purpose may take time, exploration and experimentation. Ask yourself important questions such as, what would I want to do each day if money were not a factor? How do I wish to give back to my community? What brings me joy? By looking inward and asking deep questions your purpose will start to reveal itself.

  • Accomplishments

To truly achieve happiness, it is important to set goals and be ambitious. There is a sense of pride and satisfaction that comes along with achieving our goals. Start by setting small goals and appreciating the small wins as you achieve them. As you grow and flourish in these small goals you will be able to start expanding your goals and dreaming / achieving big.

Press On

The world continues to challenge us in new and unprecedented ways, but it is our job as members of society to offer solutions to these challenges. Mental health is not a conversation to be passed over, especially in such troubling times. We must press on and actively work to improve as individuals and in turn we will be able to improve our communities.

At GYSA we believe sports can heal, teach and prepare our youth for adulthood. This is our solution. This our mission. When we stand together, we all win!

GYSA Blog

COVID-19 and Our Children’s Physical Inactivity

The current state of affairs has brought our nation to a sudden and screeching halt, a complete shut down of the world we once used to know. From gyms, to sporting events, from small and large businesses, to schools, normal no longer exists. The adverse effects of this shut down will be plentiful. Among those effected are the children of America. Today’s youth already live an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and staying home for prolonged periods is not doing any favors for their physical activity levels. 

GYSA Founder, Devonte Woodson

Let’s take a step back for a moment. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic our nation’s youth were not the most active group around. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that ONLY 24% of children, ages 6 to 17, participate in the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Again, this finding was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the state-wide stay-at-home order. So, not only is it unlikely that 76% of children will start incorporating physical activity into their daily routines during this strange new time, but it is expected that the number of previously active children will fall as well. 

The CDC found that ONLY 24% of children, ages 6 to 17, participate in the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day

According to the CDC the consequences of not being physically active include:

  • Energy imbalances which lead to increased risk of becoming overweight or obese. 
  • Increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Increased risk of factors for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. 

On the flip side, students who ARE physically active tend to have higher grades, better school attendance, improved memory, and more appropriate classroom behavior! 

“Unhealthy children become unhealthy adults”. Right now, it is vitally important to encourage physical activity in our children, and once school resumes, after-school sports programs such as the GYSA “School Sports Solution” (https://greateryouthsportsnv.org/school-sports-solution) will be more important than ever  for our schools and their students. GYSA believes in educating children at a young age about the importance of daily physical activity. By instilling this knowledge in our children at a young age, they will grow to be healthier, happier adults. 
We understand staying active during this time can be challenging. Below, GYSA has provided several tips for incorporating physical activity in your child’s daily routine:

  • Play a game of catch with a football or baseball outside (be sure to follow social distancing guidelines)
  • Work on your dribbling and passing skills by kicking around a soccer ball
  • Complete virtual home workouts, like Coach Woodson’s 15 Minute Daily Workout on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/greateryouthsports/live). Workouts are kid friendly and take place at noon each week day. 
  • Set aside one hour a day for any type of physical activities – avoid phones, the TV and other electronics. 
  • Avoid sitting for extended periods by taking a walk or just standing up and moving regularly – studies have shown that sitting for 3 hours a day or more can cut up to two years off a persons life expectancy!