ChildrenInSportsCHICAGO – To highlight the importance of equitable access to school sports programs, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) participated in a virtual panel with Laureus USA alongside athletes and other community leaders.

“Sports can be an enriching outlet for students when it comes to both their physical and mental health,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Unfortunately, students from financially insecure households, LGBTQ youth and girls are more likely to drop out before age 13. Removing barriers for these kids to stick with sports is an important goal.”

Sports not only help children keep fit – they also allow young people to make better social connections and develop stronger social-emotional skills. However, according to Laureus USA, 70% of young people drop out of sports by age 13, with many children saying they stopped having fun or their family could no longer afford fees and equipment.  

During Friday’s panel, Pacione-Zayas joined State Rep. Kam Buckner (D-Chicago); Luol Deng, a Chicago Bulls Alumni; Michael Johnson, an Olympic champion; and Merary Flores and Amy Mummery from America SCORES Chicago to address the challenges young people face when accessing sports programs.

“Addressing the barriers kids face to access sports will require a two-pronged approach,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Making sure children have well-trained coaches who can help them in their development and helping families afford to stay involve through grant programs will be imperative.”

Learn more about initiatives to keep children in sports through the America SCORES Chicago program here. Watch a recording of Friday’s panel here.

Category: Press Releases

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