Getting children involved in sports early in life can lay a foundation for a lifetime focus on health and fitness. Benefits of children in sports include reduced risk of childhood obesity, increased cardiovascular fitness, healthy growth of bones, muscles and ligaments and, in the case of high-energy kids, sports help to “get the wiggles out.” Yet, a study on kids and sports last year showed that children from upper-income homes are twice as likely to play as those from homes with less than $25,000 a year in income.
For parents or caregivers, a commitment to a child's sport can be hard on the pocketbook: registration fees, equipment, cleats that fit, shin guards, mouth guards, helmets and extra coaching costs can all add up. Team sports such as basketball, soccer, swimming are all lower cost options for those looking to engage their children in a healthy outlet without breaking the bank. Equipment requirements are typically limited to basketball shoes, a soccer ball and a racing swimsuit and goggles.
There are other sports, leagues and teams that are also low-cost that are worth exploring if you're on a budget. Sports leagues offered by your child’s school, city or church are out there, and registration fees for these are typically lower than some other sports. Frequently, scholarships are available so it's worth finding out if your child qualifies. You can even ask if the organization has any extra equipment that a potential player could use or try to find used equipment online. Most people involved in sports are eager for others to join the team and will foster a love for sports and do whatever they can to recruit new players.
Sports help develop mental and physical resiliency, healthy minds and bodies and are a fun way to help children achieve the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Although children’s sports require a commitment of time and money, it is an investment in a happy childhood and a healthy future.
United Way believes that all children deserve a strong start in life with a solid foundation for success, which includes healthy bodies and minds.