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Youth sports programs earn accolade

Children and parents have known for years that the sports programs offered by Boulder City Parks and Recreation Department are top-notch.

Now, word of the department’s good work is being heard across the country thanks to a new designation from the National Alliance of Youth Sports.

The city’s parks and recreation department recently received the Better Sports for Kids Quality Program Provider designation from the organization for its youth sports programming, said Kelly Lehr, sports coordinator for the city.

“The designation demonstrates the parks and recreation department’s quality, safety, oversight and commitment to the youth we serve,” she said. “It’s basically a stamp of approval.”

According to the National Alliance of Youth Sports, the designation recognizes organizations that meet high standards when administering youth sports programs. There is no cost to apply for the evaluation.

Lehr, a certified youth sports administrator, said she learned about the organization’s suggestions and recommendations when she attended conferences and has been incorporating them into the city’s programs for the past several years but didn’t have the time to “fully delve into it.”

A key component for the certification was to update the department’s policies and procedures and make sure they were accessible to all participants, their parents and coaches.

Having the policies and procedures in place helps the department provide “the best programs for children’s sports that we can have.”

“It includes ethics pledges for coaches and parents so they know what our expectations are,” she added.

It also includes contingency plans for emergency situations tailored for each location where youth programs are offered and deals with topics such as what to do when there is an unexpected weather change and how to handle suspicious packages.

Lehr said there were five requirements to obtain the designation. They are:

▶ Up-to-date and accessible written policies and procedures.

▶ Standardized volunteer screening.

▶ Training for coaches, staff and parents that includes concussion awareness, first aid and skill development.

▶ Rules for every sport offered and available modifications.

▶ Accountability that includes contact information for program leaders, the ability to provide feedback and evaluations, standard method for handling complaints, and safety inspections of facilities and equipment.

The accountability component was especially important for Lehr.

“Holding people accountable and really having some written standards that people follow … and how we handle complaints is a big thing. I’m on the field all the time and people can approach me, but if they don’t know who I am … Now, if you have a complaint, this is who to contact and what to do so we can find a resolution,” she said.

The quality assurance designation is good for a year and Lehr said she intends to apply again next year.

“As they update their standards, I, too, will have to update my standards and show that I am implementing them,” she said. “I feel good about it and we are strengthening the program year by year.”

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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