Created and posted this week.... the thrills and chills... here's a video of the Greatest March Madness Moments!!
February 4 - Time to take down the Christmas Tree edition... Post Super Bowl Reaction!
Well there you have it, No more Football. We have officially reached the end of the Holiday Season. That's at least my sport-centric take on things.
This Blog was intended to be posted a week ago but as anxious as you all were to read my Blog, uh cough uh, deep down I knew you could wait. Heck, we just hosted one the coolest (literally) Super Bowls in history. So much to do in the Twin Cities between downtown Minneapolis Nicollet Mall events and music, with the star studded media friendly (upgraded) Mall of Hysteria, even in downtown St. Paul with the Winter Carnival and events at the Xcel. And though I did not get a Super Bowl ticket into the Purple Palace, I was fortunate to take in a lot of all the festivities. Here's a quality statistical Super Bowl by the Numbers recap provided by Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee. Hats off to the SBLII Committee and to the thousands of volunteers and sponsors! The North was certainly Bold last week... Well done #Minnesota Proud!
So now we go! Moving on, inspired by the local spectacle, what have we learned from these past 5 months of football?
Well unless you took a year off and lived on a remote island in the South Pacific, you'd know that this has been a trying year for football. And I won't even attempt to get into the 'Take a Knee' platform used by players (and Presidents) to magnify the issues of inequality. I tend to focus on the state of health of sport, and in this case football, as a spectator, a fan and as a promoter of active sports.
Listen, I absolutely love football. I, like most sports guys, truly don't know what I would do without it. I most certainly devote my Sundays to the NFL over 5 months each year and my Monday moods have been known to be dictated by the Packer's result the day before. That said, Football, no matter how far entrenched in negativity, thanks to the media, and the unmistakable safety concerns, cannot and will not go away!! Let's better educate and correct the culture of football across the board. Here are the issues we see most prevalent and here are some ways to fix and support America's game.
Growing concern of Concussions
Whether it's pop star sensation Justin Timberlake openly responding, pre Super Bowl, to say he wouldn't let his kids play tackle football, Brett Favre in 2014 (video below) steering people from playing altogether!, or your family pediatrician preaching to the chorus, we know that there is growing concern. And that awareness and coverage is tremendous. Rules are being changed each year at every level from youth through the pros, to make football more safe, namely by attempting to minimize the amount of times kids and adults get hit in the head. We just need to be clear on what we want in sport, especially as we look over our kids, and steer them into making smart decisions.
Growing concern for Football Injuries
We know that there remain risks in EVERY sport we choose as kids and as adults. (if anyone has a new hamstring to lend out, email me :)) Ligaments tears, strains and sprains, broken bones and gashes that will keep you on your couch instead of going to Homecoming. Football certainly takes the brunt of this conversation and for good 'intensive' reason. But we love football... albeit Bigger, STRONGER, FASTER, so are the times. So let's figure it out and do football smarter!
(#BanHelmetsandPads!... There, I said it.)
"No other place where a young man is held to a higher standard"
Now I am not a football expert nor did I ever play organized football as a kid. So take all of this for what its worth.
New York Times writer, Ken Belson, added a couple articles prior to the Super Bowl that I thought provoked some sense worthy understanding of Youth Football participation. I think the most noteworthy is his piece, True Believers Circle the Wagons and Insist that the Sport is Fine.
In Belson's piece he quotes the President of the Green Bay Packers, Mark Murphy, saying, "...it is a mistake to focus solely on the risks associated with football and not to focus on the tremendous benefits."
John Harbaugh and several other top tier coaches and player's have also been more vocal of the positive influence for football. "I believe there’s practically no other place where a young man is held to a higher standard." ... "Football is hard. It’s tough. It demands discipline. It teaches obedience. It builds character", say Harbaugh.
I have a ton of close friends and acquaintances who I can guarantee would regard their High School and College football career as a tremendous reason for character and discipline in their lives and now they are successful business owners, teachers and leaders in communities across the Midwest.
Where do we go from here?!
The bottom line is we need to restore the safety and the culture around youth football and with that we restore the fun.
While concerning football safety and injury research is finding itself more and more on the front page of the paper and as State Legislators are addressing the issue by barring youth tackle football under the age of 12 years old, no one body has come up with a solid solution to keep participation in Football up and running (safe!).
The NFL, while deflecting and addressing a wide variety of other issues, is getting closer to going full steam with youth Flag Football but truly, what's the hang up?
Despite Flag Football getting the 'NOT COOL' label by its rough and tough fully padded peers, we need to fix this. Let's hope that the NFL is on it and soon so that Flag Football or Football 7's (check out www.my7on7.com in the Twin Cities) will gain greater popularity in the Midwest and across the country in the coming years.
If you think about it, there is quite a contradiction going on here. Pro and College Football has become more and more aerial over the years where Quarterbacks are the superstars and the long pass is the preferred offensive attack. So why not groom our kids by playing more technical, pass heavy play and steer further away from the thunder booming hits until kids get older? I know its not that easy but would it hurt to try to get more pass heavy, technical play from our kids?
Always open to discussion and again, if anyone is interested in joining forces with AKASPORT to develop safer solution football leagues or programs for our kids to play, just shoot me a note. In the meantime, as I always revert back to the way things used to be, have your kids round up the neighbor kids or school friends and go to a park or pick someone's backyard to play. 2 on 2 and 3 on 3 football is a ton of fun with a great deal of creativity and imagination!
Thanks for reading,
Further Football for Thought...
Happy New Year Everybody... Below is a recap of AKASPORT 2017 and on to wishing you all a bright, healthy and fortuitous 2018!
2017 Community Impact Recap
Active Kids Association of Sport (AKASPORT)
Thank you for supporting Active Kids Association of Sport this year! We had another wonderful year of summer camps and are well into our 2017-2018 After School Programs.
Our intention this past year was to build and expand on our sports and games curriculum, maintain equipment and train our staff to make these programs educational, enriching and fun! Our goal was to increase the amount of activity youth in our communities achieve each day and encourage active living into adulthood. We use sport instruction and games to encourage physical activity while building personal skills including leadership, teamwork, discipline and sportsmanship.
Results: Growth & Impact
This past year we were able to open a third summer camp location and reach 59 additional youth bringing our total impact to 373 individual campers ! This is a 16% increase over summer 2016 and we have seen this type of growth or more each year since 2004. During camp we coached over 18 sports and introduced several new sports and games including gymnastics, dance, handball and track & field events.
We are in between our after school programs for the 2017-2018 school year and have already implemented programs in seven schools and are committed to twelve schools this winter and spring. We are in constant contact with our school program coordinators to bring requested programs right to them.
AKASPORT would not be successful without our amazing staff and program partners. We are proud that we had 70% of our summer staff return for a second, third or even fourth summer with AKA! Some of our senior staff even interned in other areas of AKA and acted as mentors for some of our after school participants. We have the capacity to bring on even more youth for summer 2018 and cannot wait to extend our reach and see the impact we will make.
While we specialize in keeping kids active, we also want to impact our community in other ways. This year we organized our second Earth Day park clean up, sixth annual Community Appreciation fundraiser event which continues to grow to raise funds and awareness for active programming and we organized our second winter coat drive to support those in need.
As we move into 2018 we are focused on growing our existing programs by filling our new Centennial location to capacity. Our biggest initiative is expanding our after school and seasonal programs where we know we have the most room to grow and the most kids in need of active and safe programs. We feel confident we will increase participation in both these programs through by the end of the year.
We have two new programs starting in 2018 - AKA Outdoors and AKA Tykes! The AKA Outdoors initiative has been a dream for years and we are ready to put it into action. We will be starting with AKA Archery in January 2018 with the plan to build a catalog of outdoor activity options for our communities. We have been successful keeping kids active through more traditional sports, now it’s time to get the whole family active outdoors!
The AKA Tykes program is a new program for our 3-6 year old age group to introduce our youngest athletes to new sports and games. The purpose behind the Tykes program is to engage kids and parents! with active free play while they build coordination and teamwork. Our goal is to help them develop a love of being physically active as they enter their school age years.
Our committed staff and our continued investment in leadership is what makes AKASPORT successful and unique compared to other youth programs in the Twin Cities. To achieve our goals of growing programs we are focused on educating and empowering our staff through updated staff training and resources. As our programs continue to expand, we are committed to keeping them consistent, effective and impactful to each family. We plan to bring back a majority of our staff for summer 2018. We are also working to hire a Director to lead AKA After School. This position will focus solely on engaging more schools and students during the after school hours to help us increase our reach across the Twin Cities.
To further our impact, we will continue our successful community events including park clean ups, winter coat and used sports equipment and apparel drives and our Community Appreciation Event as well as introduce new active family fun!
We hope you will continue to support our mission of keeping kids well rounded through sport! With your support we will continue to reach even more youth and help them achieve a lifelong love of healthy living.
Active Kids Association of Sport (AKASPORT) - 2017 review
Renee Beaman & Chris Schulz
Let us keep close all of the positive memories that keep us smiling and seeking more. Keep close those we have lost and let us to move forward with compassion and care for everyone out there... Keep active, keep inspired and help spread Peace to all! ...All the Best, CS
Stepping into fragile territory...
A review of The Fragile Generation by Lenore Skenazy & Jonathan Haidt
Big thanks to ma boy, JT, for sharing my concerns and for being the first to bring this article to my attention.
I have held onto this one for several weeks for a few reasons. In the timely sense, this is the feature in the December issue of Reason Magazine. Philosophically, because I am a bit sensitive to the reaction this may create as I never! firmly want to tell parents how to parent nor do I want to persuade them in a direction opposite of the norms to which they may be working well with their kids already. But also because of the depths of the constant negative matter circling above and around the current affairs of bullying in schools, child neglect and abuse, and more recently, seemingly unavoidable - gun violence, mass shootings and sexual harassment cases to name a few. You name it … things are not exactly all positive right now.
So let's take life back now and show our kids how to be stronger and more resilient for a more promising and positive tomorrow. I had this actual article discussion with my ma and dad over a year ago and we clearly were looking for answers.
Why are more kids not walking to school or riding bikes to the playground?!! (Apparently, Only 13 percent of them now walk to school.)
What happened to the days you can play in the backyard for hours without worry or play 2 on 2 basketball in the driveway until your fingers start to bleed? Does anyone even play Kick the Can anymore, my God that was the life!
Why are sports so incredibly structured… from 2 years old and up now it seems!
This article is the first substantial take I have read on the subject. IN. MY. OPINION., in The Fragile Generation (TFG), Lenore Skenazy and Jonathon Haidt do an outstanding job of storytelling and providing fact driven lessons and research that I can only hope starts to catch on in the doctrines of modern day parenting and teaching (and coaching)!
Each section within TFG hits home. Not just for me but for most, if not all the kids and families, I work with. Their anecdotes are spot on; the 911 call on the boy chopping wood, swings and teeter-totters being banned, kids under 12 not allowed to go to library alone and my favorite being the (adult) couple who called the police to ultimately come over and set a mouse trap for the mouse in their apartment. For crying out loud, the authors cite that the Consumer Product Safety Commission even warns parks of "tripping hazards, like…tree stumps and rocks," a fact unearthed (so to speak) by Philip Howard, author of 2010's Life Without Lawyers.
Fear & Structure
Skenazy (@FreeRangeKids) & Haidt (@JonHaidt) are not afraid to squash the fear of rising preds and perps in the world either. If you look further into this, today, your kids (and adults) are safer today than ever since 1963. "While Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker writes in 2011's The Better Angels of Our Nature that life in most countries is safer today than at any time in human history, the press keeps pushing paranoia. This makes stepping back feel doubly risky: There's the fear of child kidnappers and the fear of Child Protective Services."
When it comes to the Youth Sports Industry and the astronomical amount of time and dollars spent on structured sports, there must also be a way of bringing back how things use to be. At least, this is one of my personal agendas to fix.
#FamilyFirst #6:00Supper #BackyardPickupGames #UnplugForADay
To me, this article has it all!
If you are more into watching video than reading the TFG article, the YouTube within, mostly the interview with author and "The World's Worst Mom", Lenore Skenazy, is inside. (Most of you know, I am not a parent, though I think reading and watching this video will serve you well.)
At AKASPORT, we push Free Play more than anything. If you ask the kids, "What is your favorite part of the day", without question, the 99% answer is FREE PLAY, which we designate as at least 4.5 hours of the 11 hour AKA summer camp day experience. And in the AKA after school programs, we design this Free Play mentality around creating a safe haven of sports and fitness at the schools that focuses on 60 minutes of play, with minimal instruction but a great deal of multi-sport variety, togetherness and young adult mentorship and coaching. And in the newly launched AKA Outdoors division, the vision is to get more kids outdoors and to take part in more unique, mind opening activities to appreciate more of the natural aspects of good living.
Professor and research contributor, Peter Gray writes in 2013’s Free to Learn, “Free play is the means by which children learn to make friends, overcome their fears, solve their own problems and generally take control of their own lives.” … “Nothing we do, no amount of toys we buy or 'quality time' or special training we give our children, can compensate for the freedom we take away. The things that children learn through their own initiatives, in free play, cannot be taught in other ways.”
Time for Parents and Leaders to Step UP ... Open to Discussion
The story of late that has taken off like wildfire is of course the sexual abuse scandals that headline the news seemingly every day. I cannot even begin to imagine how kids are interpreting this or if and how you parents and teachers are discussing why this matters to your kids. But this to me is a perfect example of an opportunity to steer kids away from the negative darkness and show them the positive light.
I can only hope that parents are speaking with their kids consistently about issues and how to be a better person and citizen than the one that is in the news. Seize that opportunity to show these kids the way. I never forget mom's compassion filled talks to me such as the day I walked home from school in 1st grade and some random kid painted a large fresh strip of paint down the back of my winter jacket or the time she cooled me down after I wanted to fight the neighbor friend after a long walk home in 4th grade. Were those big deals, not really at all! I survived and we moved on and those great memory lessons still make an impression on me today. Or the first bike ride mom and dad guided me on to the tennis courts (on Irish Road...never forget!) so that I knew where and how I was to go. That set the course...they showed me the way and then trusted me to do it on my own...safe, secure and independent. Those simple "rehearsal" treks set the path for me to go a long, long way and I am forever grateful.
As this article, The Fragile Generation, and topic is deep and clearly hits home in today’s turbulent society, I encourage you all to chime in and speak about what you are doing with your kids or how your schools may or may not be addressing these issues. No, it is not ideal for every kid, based on their neighborhood or proximity to friends and parks, to walk or bike to school nor is it perfectly convenient for them to play with close neighbors and friends if they don't have them. But there are always ways we adults can support the habits of kids without structured sports, tablets or look the other way neglect. Take action and let us know!
Thank you for reading and... Happy December!
This is 5 minutes long... probably 4 minutes worth of hand gestures and 1 minute worth of goodness. If you watch, cool, thanks, there's a prize opportunity within and if you don't, well, here's the skinny........
- Reminder : AKA Give to the Max donations are live through Thursday.
THURSDAY IS THE BIG DAY...help us in our cause to better our AKA After School programs. ( LINK HERE ) #GTTM17
- See our Blog post from last Spring regarding the NEED for After School programs!
- #OneWarmCoat ... thanks for all your winter coat and pant donations
- #Cringeworthy #HASHTAG #HandsTeam #AKAWay
At the very end, I mention seeking a video editor for future AKA Vlogs and Youth Sports video production. Shoot me an email if interested, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks everyone...stay warm, healthy and active. All the best to you this Giving, Holiday season! CS
The leaves seen through my window pane
Remind me that it's time to move my life again
November sun is felt by none
A chilly breeze has blown my thoughts to what's to come
... JB & Mikey
Before mentioning that Registration is Now Open for 2018 AKA Summer Camps, I just wanted to check in and show everyone that I am alive and well. (Sorry for the photo above...tip toeing towards a future in more appealing sound-tracked video blogging.) Fully recovered from my most hectic (so many synonyms, which one to choose) AKA and coaching year to date, I'm back. Now we go.
In this, recovery period, and yes, those who know me know that that is my sole mission for September and October (that and planning and coaching and wishing my QB still had his collarbone in tact), I have honed in on motivation speakers, getting after life and one word, Hustle. (Hat tip #2 to @garyvee)
We hear it all the time but I'm somewhat losing faith in, or more subtley, losing touch with those of us, especially in the Midwest, who actually live to the Hustle. "Life's short", "Chase your Dreams", "Don't Stop get it get it" and on and on but how many of you and to what degree are you all actually pursuing this? If so, reach me anytime, please.....looking to start a new club of unstoppable proportions. @topherschulzmn
Anyways...November here we are. Let's go. Since 2012, November 1 has marked the start of a new cycle for AKA programming which registration for the following year programs going live. We look forward to serving hundreds of families in 2018 and what I will tell you is that what is about to happen with AKA might actually get your attention. We're going places with better programming, better coaching, more programs, more schools and more personal attention to the kids, to the people, to the quality of life through sport. Trust me.
Before I leave you to all get after it today... a special thanks to the Coon Rapids Ice Center and all their staff for three years of operations at your beautiful facility. It has been a pleasure operating out of your space...Thank you!
Keep me updated on what you are all doing to stay active this fall and winter. More programs and ideas coming soon. Thanks for reading.... all the best, CS
#YouthSports #FamilyFirst #ChangingtheGameProject #AKAWay
So eloquently put, I couldn't say it any better with a chagrined smirk. "Our priorities are out of whack", said local reputable hockey coach Bill Lechner, head boys hockey coach at Hill-Murray High School. Good call Coach.
If you read the Star Tribune this past Sunday or you follow anything sports related in Minnesota news or social media, there's the strong possibility that you saw Joe Christensen's article in Sunday's paper, Part I : Game On and On : Year-Round sports push kids to the limit.
This one is not so much about the safety or health repercussions of sport specialization, rather the emotional and financial burdens of the topic.
In youth sports, these are the stories necessary to forward on to the masses for their outcry of change needed before its too late. Read it if you have a chance. Here are the reminders and nuggets that stuck out to me from the article.
- By age 12, (softball) (for article subject, Kali) turned into a "chore"
- Devouring (kids & families) free time
- Youth Sports is now an estimated $15 Billion a year industry (*and if you didn't see HBO's recent Real Sports Special : Youth Sports Inc., see below)
- 2% (!!) of High School athletes get some form of college scholarship
- Specialized athletes are 50% more likely to suffer lower body injuries (okay so they do sneak in some physical / health repercussion statistics)
If I may come clean... I never want to disrupt the excitement of sports participation for a kid and his family of following a dream, much less disrupt their path to enjoyment whether that be playing hockey or basketball or... fishing, all year round. I coach year round soccer players. I see it first hand and I get it. And as my parents did for me, parents you love and support your kids with everything that excites their heart. Listen if you have the means to support your kids, you do it. But........
...... It feels as though we have completely forgotten how to show our kids, to get our kids and to support our kids how to play, how to train, how to have fun playing sports on their own with friends and neighborhood buddies without spending the 10s of thousands of dollars and countless hours of pressurized training to get there. How difficult is it to bring back "backyard games" or the "go get on your bike and meet up at the park or the courts with your buddies. Is it possible? Have we gone to the point of no return?! "I don't know how you're going to reverse it", says Totino Grace activities director Mike Smith. Mike's right, what's it going to take?
My folks got taken by a college recruiting service when I was a senior in HS but fortunately that was for no more than $1,000. They didn't know better. They wanted to support my passion. They also put me in off-season tennis and round the year soccer but that was a fraction of what these clubs make you pay today not too mention was an absolute blast without all the pressure.
But how can you fault those parents who want to support their kids advancing in their passion. You can't. Just be smart about it. Sports are so insanely glamorized its ridiculous. I should know, I'm an everyday customer. And with television advertising and social media so stuck to kids and aspiring athlete's eyes every minute of the day, why wouldn't we be drawn into wanting the bigger, faster, stronger, BETTER formula within year-round training to get to the top.
Again, I never want to tell you what you are doing is wrong as a parent supporting your kids in youth sports. Most of you have been a part of sports for as just as long as I have and frankly, who am I to say I am right. But I ask that you take the time to talk to your kids. Know what's out there and who and why you are paying for it. And do your research! Talk to your trusted coaches and get the truth! Is my kid college ball material?? Play with them as much as you can when they are young and take the time to talk to them about what they like and don't like and where they want to go with sports. Be honest, have compassion, but above all, truly hear your kids out and support them with their interests. There are a lot of sports clubs and training groups out there that see this only for the money. So watch out!
More literature is on the way. Let's stay tuned and educated and rework our priorities within the household. Thanks Joe. Really looking forward to more of these stories.
#AKAWay #HealthyBites! #FieldTripsWallBallSportsandGames ....
what more could you ask for?!
We are cruising through the last week of June in our gargantuan 2017 AKA All Sports Camp Summer. All three Camp locations - Blaine, Centennial and Coon Rapids - were getting ready to head out on today's field trip which means the kids are all smiles and laughs today!
Truly never a dull moment... now let's hear what the kids have to say!
I can never truly speak about AKA programming without mentioning the Staff! This phenomenal Staff, for over 12 summers now, is what I believe sets AKA apart from other youth sports programs.
This year over 70%!! of our summer staff is returning from last summer for more fun than ever. Not to mention the addition of some incredibly gifted teachers, graduate students, college athletes and high school captains, we are truly blessed to have such a strong group to work with all these kids across 3 summer locations.
In this BLOG entry are your 2017 Summer Staff Directors. You can find the entire list of AKA Staff via our ABOUT > STAFF link.
Thanks to all... let's have another amazing summer!
Dean Downs: All Sports Camp & Speed of Play Development and Entertainment
Melissa Elsen: Site Supervisor, Coon Rapids and AKA Field Trip Coordinator
Melissa is a graduate of St. Cloud State where she earned a degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Science. She completed a Master's degree through the University of Cincinnati in Curriculum and Instruction and currently teaches 6th Grade in the Hopkins School District. Originally from Coon Rapids, this will be her third summer with AKA! Melissa's favorite sport to play is Sand Volleyball, but her favorite AKA field trip is the Twins game because she loves to watch baseball- and see all the campers on the jumbo-tron! She especially loves the AKA Opening Ceremonies Week because she gets to meet all the new campers and introduce a variety of activities in the same week.
Melissa doesn't give herself much down time. At the end of every summer, she walks 60 miles in 3 days to raise money and awareness in the fight against breast cancer. Melissa has personally raised over $10,000 and walked over 300 miles!
Brittany Mcnab: Site Supervisor, Blaine & Centennial
Originally from Dubuque, Iowa, Brittany now lives in Minneapolis and is headed into her 6th summer as an AKA Coach. Her favorite week is Ice Sports because she loves being on the ice. Brittany played hockey through high school and on a club team at the U of MN while earning her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Elementary Education. During the school year she teaches second grade in Fridley.
A couple of fun facts about Brittany- she did an internship in Australia and taught physical education to elementary students. If you have trouble spotting Brittany at camp you might find her mixed in with the campers as she has been the same height since 6th grade!
Krista Lande: Program Director, Centennial
Krista is back for her third summer coaching with AKA! She played volleyball through high school, but loves AKA Soccer week because so many of the kids enjoy it and she loves watching their talent and excitement! Krista truly gets her energy from the kids-her favorite AKA field trip is Como Zoo because she love to see the campers excitement while looking at the different animals.
Originally from Brooklyn Park, Krista is currently attending The University of Minnesota Duluth as an Education major. She will be student teaching in the Robbinsdale School District in the Fall and will graduate Spring 2018.
A fun fact about Krista- she has a new puppy named Lanee!
Kelly Besst: Program Director, Coon Rapids
Kelly is headed into her third summer with AKA and every year she looks forward to taking the kids on the Twins and Saints game field trips. Fastpitch softball is her favorite sport- she's been involved with it since Little League! During camp she loves Archery week because the kids get to try something new and different.
Kelly is currently a student at St. Catherine University in St. Paul pursuing a Dietetics major. She is on track to graduate Spring 2019.
If you are looking for Kelly on the weekends you will probably find her spending time with her corgi, watching Captain America movies and cooking healthy meals!
Matt Smith: Program Director, Blaine
Matt is headed into his 4th year as an AKA Coach and loves Soccer week. He has played as long as he can remember and loves teaching the kids new skills or helping them improve their game. He still remembers his first day at AKA and knew as soon as he met the kids and other coaches that it was going to be a perfect fit. His favorite field trip is the Canoe Trip down the St. Croix which is back for summer 2017!
Matt is currently a senior at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and will be graduating this Spring with a Bachelors Degree in Marketing with a Minor in Psychology.
A fun fact about Matt- Jimmy Neutron is still one of his favorite TV shows!
Mckaela Bormann: Assistant Director, Blaine
Coach Mckaela is going into her 7th summer with AKA! What's not to like about Mckaela as she greets the kids in the early morning and screams with the kids down the most hair raising rides at Valley Fair! Outside of AKA, Mckaela is working hard getting her degree in Cosmetology and you can often find her in the evenings helping customers at Ulta in Roseville.
Mo Almeala: Assistant Director, Blaine & AKA After School Lead Staff
Coach Mo, in only his second year, has been a leader in the AKA After School initiative and will again be a Camp lead at the AKA NSC All Sports Camp.
Mo's favorite pastimes are making dinner for his mom & dad, playing basketball with all his heart despite getting worked by Coach Chris and of course listening to his favorite classic piano jams. Mo is in the middle of his college career studying finance at Carlson School of Management at the U of MN. Way to go Mo!!
For years my AKA March Madness newsletters have been loaded with slam dunk highlights or whacky tournament game endings, Gopher and Badger rah rah and NCAA Tournament bracket buster bewilderment. But the real messages that deserve to be highlighted are those of character development through sport. No, seriously!
Take for example Geno Auriemma, who will go down as the greatest college women's basketball coach and who has recently gone viral again having voiced such a worthy character message that I wish I would have listened to when I was younger.
Au contraire mon frère... Make no doubt about it, my mom and dad tried to instill this message and many other character messages into me through countless attempts of sit downs and car rides but I think it is fare to say I, like many 'know it all' youth athletes, was difficult to understand and truly respect how important these messages all were.
My hope today is that you share these type of viral messages, these video press conferences and lessons with your kids in sport and that once again, sport matters! Parenting of the modern social media era... you can't go wrong!
Enjoy the Madness of March!
All the best, Good People.
Education is a tool that can overcome a lot of hurdles. – NFL Hall of Famer and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Alan Page
Thanks Alan. To borrow this and to take it a step further, education by way of enriching #afterschool programs and extracurricular activities is an essential tool that can overcome a lot of hurdles!
To put in macro terms, today over 11.3 million children are on their own after school*. And in Minnesota, 25% (219,277) of K-12 youth are responsible for taking care of themselves after school. 15% (136,041) of Minnesota's K-12 children participate in afterschool programs, including 11,647 kids in programs supported by the U.S. Department of Education's 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, the only federal program dedicated to afterschool. *Thank you @Afterschoolalliance.org for the simple facts and for all the awareness you bring to this agenda.
See 'AFTERSCHOOL SUPPORTS SUCCESS' graphics below.
To put in more personal, understandable terms, let me remind you why after school programs are so important.
- Provides kids with the proper environments to make smart, healthy and educational choices.
- Keeps kids safe and out of trouble.
- Gives students resources and tools to achieve through reading, writing, arts & crafts, and in AKASPORT’s view – exercise and free play alongside positive mentorship
- Supports working parents
- Broadens horizons – outlook on mentorship, importance of teamwork and giving back.
Active Kids Association of Sport, yes, AKASPORT, is currently operating afterschool programming in 9 schools this winter and spring in 3 school districts in Minnesota. (Anoka-Hennepin School District #11, Minneapolis Public School District #1, and Spring Lake Park Public District #16) This programming, along with our AKA All Sports Summer Camps, are the 2 major pillar programs that AKASPORT operates year round.
As the uncertainties of federal funding and competing budget agenda priorities grow, it is vital that we grow awareness of the importance of afterschool programming for schools with lower to middle and even higher income families. Just imagine what all those 11.3 million and growing number of kids would be doing without these safe and enriching afterschool environments.
When we ask our AKA afterschool participants at Lucy Laney Elementary in North Minneapolis what their favorite part of the day is each class, the majority response is quick to call out, “After School class”. Take it from these kids…these programs are so important to the outlook of their full day.
For the past 8 years, AKASPORT has provided Fall, Winter and Spring multi-sport afterschool programs that run 60-90 minutes of fitness and sports. Our ultimate goal is to further enhance this fitness and sports model to that which combines with more academic tutoring and education. The structure at Lucy Laney provides for 45 minutes of afterschool homework and tutoring followed by 60 minutes of fitness and sports with AKA. Simple, effective and a proven highlight of the kids day. Let us raise awareness for the importance of these quality programs and find the ways and means to secure more resources to further this tutoring/fitness model in more schools and districts across the country.
Thank you to the Timberwolves Foundation and Allina Health for recent contributions to supporting our programs and thank you all for reading and for all of your support.
Happy Holidays to all of you! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Boxing Day, Happy Bodhi Day (past), Peace and Happy New Year to all of my Muslim friends and of course how could I forget...Happy Festivus. Whoever you are, wherever you are... I wish you good health, peace and happiness...love you all!
Rather than going too deep as I can do from time to time in Blogging mode... let's keep it simple, topshelf ..... this is the season to keep it simple and rejoice! It's been a difficult year for many to fully absorb so all I want to do is slow down, say thank you and wish you peace and happiness with family and friends this Holiday Season.
Reflect on all the good times and events from '16 and let's move on into a greater '17.
Sports Highlights of 2016...who remembers...
- Peyton riding off into the sunset with his 2nd Super Bowl Ring
- Lebron bringing Cleveland an NBA Championship
- Rio Olympics brought us more history, most notably with Michael Phelps (23rd GOLD medal) and Usain Bolt (9th Track & Field GOLD medal)
- Cubs winning the World Series for the first time in 108 years!!
- And to all the inspiring sportsmanship stories of 2016.
- How could I leave out People are Awesome 2016.
Keep the list going...What Highlights did I miss? Ready go!!.....
Thank you to all of you wonderful parent's and KIDS!! Your support, participation and positive outlook for active health and sports programs is essential to our future.
Lastly a big thanks to all of my AKA Staff, especially to Renee Beaman for all her great work with AKA events, outreach and social media support. We cannot do this without all of you!!
Stay healthy, kind!!, and active. God Bless you all!
This entry began by chance. Spontaneous fortune. One of those moments where you go back through time and revisit your goals and aspirations written down from countless years ago.
I started writing journal entries and ideas, collected notes and emails years ago thanks to the encouragement of a few close friends. Thanks to that subtle nudge to write down the thousands of thoughts and ideas in my life (mostly sports and music), I was able to fully comprehend and build what is AKASPORT. Starting with a simple mission surrounded by an abundance of programs and events that is moving forward into more than an idea for Keeping Kids Active but into a successful business organization thanks to incredible people. I am now hooked for life thanks to my notes. It truly is never too late to start journal writing and building your dream.
So last week with the presidential election and all the unrest and uncertainty that came with it (not to mention Fear for thousands more), I sought out where I was at 8 years ago prior to President Obama’s victory. And through this particular journal, I found a saved and folded a print out from an email titled 40 tips for a better life 12 months ago. It was one of those ‘pass it on and good fortune will come’ kind of emails.
For today’s AKASPORT Blog entry, I thought it was worth sharing. Let’s move forward from last week’s results and stay positive focusing on self-betterment and love for all. What is on this list is a simple, timeless recipe for a better life.
Hopefully you’ve made it this far…if so, thanks for reading!
40 tips for a better life 12 months ago(timeless...from 2008)
- 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.
- Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
- Buy a DVR and tape your late night shows and get more sleep. (Dated with a :))
- When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, ‘My purpose is to ___ today.’
- Live with the 3 E’s – Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
- Play more games and read more books than you did 2007.
- Make time to practice meditation, yoga, tai chi and prayer. They provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.
- Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.
- Dream more while you are awake.
- Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
- Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.
- Try to make at least three people smile each day.
- Clear clutter from your house, your car, your desk and let new and flowing energy into your life.
- Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
- Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
- Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card. (*Revisit Breakfast and Lunch research)
- Smile and laugh more. It will keep the energy vampires away.
- Life isn’t fair…but it’s still good.
- Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
- You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to (!) disagree.
- Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
- Don’t compare your life to others’. You have NO idea what their journey is all about.
- No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
- Frame every so-called disaster with these words: ‘In five years, will this matter?’
- Forgive everyone for everything.
- What other people think of you is none of your business.
- God heals almost everything.
- However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
- Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch!
- Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
- Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
- The best is yet to come.
- No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
- Do the right thing!
- Call your family often. (Or email them!!!)
- Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: I am thankful for _____. Today I accomplished _______
- Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.
- Enjoy the ride. Remember this is not Disney World and you certainly don’t want a fast pass. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy the ride.
- Please forward this to everyone you care about. (Classic 2008)
Let me know if you remember this one.
Let me know what you would add to this and for talking points, considering this piece is timeless, what details did you catch that could be updated?
Or which ones hit closest to home and are your favorites?
Or if you know where this came from and who wrote it, please let me know. Spread it round!
Thanks for taking the time. What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. Here’s wishing you all the best, TODAY and EVERY DAY, EACH DAY, TAKE ONE AT A TIME TOWARDS A BETTER TOMORROW. All the best, CS
What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within, out in to the world...Miracles Happen!
2016 AKA All Sports Camp - Unforgettable!
(be sure to see the AKA Summer video at the bottom)
We had an incredible summer. We really did. For me, personally, what comes to mind is the pace at which AKA programs move, how quickly the summers go and how much these kids are able to play and grow.
As I've said before, AKA is not for everyone (though I wish it were) so I will not stop until I can provide it in a comfortable setting for everyone. I believe sport is and forever will be the perfect vehicle to promote active lifestyles, provide life long memories and to teach so many of life's important lessons.
AKA summers are intense in pace and jam packed with activity for all who take part. Through the countless hours of instruction, games and making new friends, my goal remains to keep everyone safe, everyone active and above all everyone having fun! (did I mention the video below?!)
Throughout the 2016 AKA summer, many mastered the cartwheel, many broke wooden boards, we all conquered the upper deck of Target Field and we made countless friendships with kids and staff. We all took part in the Summer Olympics, 14 theme sports and countless games and exercises. The daily amount of physical activity averaged over 8.75 hours for a total of 337 participants!
I cannot thank our partners enough...from Healthy Bites with our meals to our field trip vendors, our outside sports instructors to our sponsors. We could not do this without you. And of course, thank you Parents and Staff... your enthusiasm and mentorship for these kids is everything!
As the 2017 AKA All Sports registration period is just around the corner (November 1 for Holiday Early Birds), I am excited to say that we will be adding more AKA locations. There is an enormous vision for AKASPORT through All Sports Camps, After School programs, community offerings and charitable work. A lot of work ahead...but in the meantime, again, thank you all for taking part in AKASPORT programs. All the best, CS
This summer AKA has been partnering with National Dizzy and Balance Center to learn more about their approach to sport injury treatment. Lauren Kijewski, Certified Athletic Trainer, works with patients of all ages and abilities on dizzy and balance disorders. Her specialty, however, is youth athletes. She is currently the Athletic Trainer at several metro schools and represents NDBC at events such as the MN Hockey tournament.
We asked Lauren to share information on concussions with us so we can understand the symptoms and treatments if a concussion should occur. Here are some common questions that Lauren and her team receive about concussion prevention, treatment and common myths.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury.
What is the most common cause of concussion?
Any type of fall. That includes kids falling off playground equipment, while running or during sports games. They don't always occur during high impact activities- concussions can really happen at any time and can occur with any movement or jostling of the head as in whiplash injuries (front to back) or rotational force (side to side).
Which sports have the highest rates of concussions in athletes?
There are different statistics available that can vary by age group and location, but Football, Soccer and Hockey rank among the highest because an athlete can sustain injury from collisions with other players, impact or falls.
What is the best way to prevent a concussion?
There is really no way to prevent all concussions. It is important to wear proper gear when playing a sport, but because a concussion can result from any type of impact to the brain, injuries can still occur.
What are the most common symptoms of concussion?
Symptoms usually fall into four categories:
Thinking/Remembering (difficulty thinking clearly or concentrating, difficulty remembering new information)
- Physical (headache, blurred vision, nausea/vomiting, dizziness, balance problems, sensitivity to light or noise, having no energy)
- Emotional/Mood (Irritability, sadness, nervousness or anxiety)
- Sleep (More or less than usual, difficulty falling asleep)
How is a concussion diagnosed?
There isn't a "test" for concussions, but typically an evaluation at an emergency room will include basic neurological tests and may include neuroimaging tests such as an MRI or CT scan. A concussion does not cause structural injury to the brain, so these scans are used primarily to rule out a more serious injury, especially bleeding inside the skull. An evaluation done immediately following a potential concussion would include an interview of the athlete to check for loss of memory or consciousness, an evaluation using a SCAT (Sideline Concussion Assessment Tool) to check symptoms, attention, memory, balance and coordination. Finally there may be an examination to test strength, reflexes, coordination, mental status and other neurological functions.
There is a lot of information about concussions that some claim to be myths. Can you tell us if this information is true?
- A concussion only occurs when a person is knocked unconscious.
False. The American Academy of Neurology defines concussion as a "trauma- induced alteration in mental status that may or may not involve a loss of consciousness". Only about 10% of concussions involve loss of consciousness.
- If someone has a concussion, do not let them sleep.
False. If the person is tired, let them rest! Their brain needs to heal. The exception to this rule is if the person is showing other signs- extreme fatigue, vomiting, not acting like themselves. In that case, it is best to seek emergency care to ensure there are no other internal injuries.
- A concussion takes two weeks to heal.
True and False. All concussions are different so there is not one time frame to know you have healed properly. Most concussions do resolve in 7-10 days with proper treatment. When symptoms do not resolve within 30 days, post concussive syndrome is usually diagnosed, and in most cases a specialty concussion clinic like NDBC is needed to properly evaluate and design an appropriate treatment plan. Untreated post concussive syndrome can affect memory, physical and emotional functioning for many months to years post injury. Children and teenagers actually recover more slowly due to their developing brain. They are also more prone to complications from concussion.
- It is not safe to give a person that may have a concussion over the counter headache medicine.
True and False. After a concussion is sustained, you do not want to give your athlete any OTC medication that is a blood thinner, such as Advil or Ibuprofen. Parents ask “Can I just give him Advil to make his headache go away?” The answer is NO. These medications will restrict the blood flow to the brain and hide the true symptoms of the concussion. There are a few OTC medications that are acceptable to give your athlete after 24-48 hours of sustained concussion if his/her headache is intolerable. In this case, taking your athlete in for an evaluation is highly recommended. It is very important to consult your physician on proper recommendations before administering any medication.
- An athlete who has had one concussion is more likely to have another than an athlete who hasn't been concussed.
True. Once a person has had one concussion, the threshold for sustaining another concussion is lowered. Also, if a player sustains another blow before he or she is fully recovered the symptoms can be worse and it may take longer to recover.
NDBC recommends Baseline Concussion Testing for youth athletes. Why is this?
All Concussions are unique and need to be treated differently. Baseline Concussion Testing allows us to test multiple aspects of cognitive functioning in athletes including attention span, working memory, attention time, reaction time, and problem solving. Impact testing helps providers make better return to play decisions, helping to prevent secondary impact syndrome and post concussive syndrome. NDBC uses these Baseline tests if an injury occurs to effectively plan individualized rehabilitation programs post injury to ensure health return to activity.
Think of Baseline testing like insurance for your brain. You hope you don't need it (that means an accident has occurred), but if you do need it, the recovery process is much easier. Then think that this is your brain- you can't get a new one and a traumatic injury can really impact your quality of life. It's our goal to get you back to normal as quickly and safely as possible.
Baseline Concussion Testing Opportunities
If you are interested in baseline concussion testing there are two upcoming opportunities for AKA families at a reduced rate of $10 for children age 10 and up (regularly $50).
- Saturday, August 13th, 9am-12pm: Edina NDBC Clinic (6700 France Ave S Suite 300 Edina MN 55435)
- Saturday, Sept.10, 9am-12pm: Edina NDBC Clinic (6700 France Ave S Suite 300 Edina MN 55435)
Email Lauren at email@example.com for more information and to sign up!
Learn more about NDBC and baseline concussion testing
We are off to a great start this year at the All Sport Camp- already half way through! AKA keeps kids active every day, but we want the whole family to get out, be active and enjoy life! That's why we are adding more events just for our AKA families- here are some you won't want to miss!
Friday, 7/29- Parent's Night Out!
Summer can be crazy and while we love family time, sometimes mom and dad just need a night off. We are hosting a Parent's Night Out on 7/29 so you can bring your AKA kids (and their friends) to hang out at NSC for a movie on the projection screen (HUGE!), pizza, games and a night of fun.
We understand this could be a long day for the kids that are already attending camp so this won't be as active as our camp hours. Just a night for kids to be kids in a safe place.
- Event held at National Sports Center- Rinks 7/8 from 6-10pm
- Drop off and pick up any time during the evening; Pizza will arrive at 7pm!
- $30 per child or $25 when you register two or more (sibling or bring a friend!)
- Limited to kids age (going into) 1st grade through 9th grade
Thursday, 8/4- AKA Night at the Velodrome!
Parent's at our NSC site drive past it all the time- the Velodrome. Many of the kids (and parents!) may not even know what it is so we want to introduce you to this exciting sport of Velodrome Bike Racing! These track bikes have one gear and no breaks- the perfect combination for extreme speeds and crashes.
Join us for Thursday Night Lights to watch the fast paced excitement. There will be several racing groups and interactive games with a chance to win prizes from Velodrome sponsors! There is a concession stand so you can make a night of it with your AKA friends. All ages are welcome- bring the whole family! Races begin at 7pm!
Learn more about the Velodrome and this amazing sport at velodrome.nscsports.org
Let us know you are coming on our Facebook Event page!
Wednesday, 8/17- Community Appreciation Event!
It's that time of year again! Join us for the 5th Annual Community Appreciation Event at the National Sports Center! Come out for dinner provided by Healthy Bites, enjoy music from the great DJ Deanomite, compete in games against your kids & coaches, and more!
This event means so much to the AKA staff and campers. Its our chance to say Thank You for a great summer, give parents a chance to have some fun with us and help transition the kids back to the school year.
We want our families to have some fun being active together so everything at this event is provided free of charge with exception to our Fundraising Dunk Tank and Basketball Free Throw Competition. AKASPORT still operates as a nonprofit organization so these extra funds allow us to further our mission of Keeping Kids Well Rounded Through Sports by bringing in additional sports and activities and improve upon our existing programs.
The event will be held outdoors of Rink 7/8 at our NSC site and will run from 4-7pm. (Food will be available until 6pm).
No need to register- just show up!
We couldn't do this without your support!
We hope you will join us for these events!
For those of you new (or old) that are wondering if the AKA All Sports Camp counts for summer child care and is eligible for tax credit...the answer is and has always been, yes! (AKA Tax Id - 03-0545137) You know who to contact to get your statement if you need.
Here's some good information from a credible acquaintance.
Day camp costs are eligible for the child-care tax credit and employer-sponsored "flexible spending arrangements" (FSA).
Many working parents who are sending their younger children to day camp this summer can count on the tax code to help subsidize part of the cost.
For children under age 13, the cot of day camp is eligible for the child and dependent care tax credit. Sending a child to day camp is also an eligible expense for employees who are paying child-care expenses through flexible spending arrangements for work.
Only day camp costs count. (AKA All Sports Camp approved!) The cost of sending a child to sleepover camp isn't eligible for either the child tax credit or payment through flexible-spending accounts.
The child - and dependent - care credit covers expenses for the care of children under age 13 (or an incapacitated dependent of any age) while the parents are at work. Generally, the credit applies to expenses of up to $3,000 a year for the care of one child and up to $4,800 for two or more dependents.
FSAs also provide tax savings. Any salary set aside in an FSA to pay eligible dependent-care expenses is exempt from income tax and Social Security tax.
If you have any further tax questions, you're better off asking your accountant. :) However if you need a statement or anything, be sure to let us know.
Good luck... AKASPORT (EIN #03-0545137)
Earlier this month, AKASPORT held its first official fundraiser with the AKA Spaghetti Scholarship Dinner (February 4) (thanks Renee Beaman, AKA Events!). AKASPORT has created FUNDraisers for over a decade with programs, camps and Community Appreciation Events with great success, but make no doubt about it, it is time to get more serious and create truly positive FUNDraisers.
The first step in creating FUNDraisers is establishing the why and the what are we raising money for. Quite simply, we have a mission to providing Active programs for more kids and families whether they can or cannot afford such programming.
So to prove my point with numbers and to hopefully grab people's attention, prior to the event, I gathered select statistics from the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (see below). Have a look and feel free to add comments or other glaring statistics you think are relevant to our cause.
Selected bullets from the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (2010-2015 studies)
- (2010) Children now spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen (e.g., TV, videogames, computer).Think what that number is up to now with the greater abundance of smart phones, tablets and greater sensationalism of video games!!7
- (2011) Nearly one-third of high school students play video or computer games for 3 or more hours on an average school day.24
- (2015/2016) Only about one in five homes have parks within a half-mile, and about the same number have a fitness or recreation center within that distance. Coon Rapids has 48 parks and 40 miles of trails…Bikes!!5
- (2014) 28.0% of Americans, or 80.2 million people, aged six and older are physically inactive.23
I don’t even touch this one...leave that to the the Nutrition experts and to Geri and Healthy Bites. My take on Nutrition is to cut down on sugar and don't eat after 8:00pm if possible.
- (2011) Recent reports project that by 2030, half of all adults (115 million adults) in the United States will be obese.12
- (2015) For children with disabilities, obesity rates are approximately 38% higher than for children without disabilities. It gets worse for the adult population where obesity rates for adults with disabilities are approximately 57% higher than for adults without disabilities.15
- (2010) Nearly 45% of children living in poverty are overweight or obese compared with 22% of children living in households with incomes four times the poverty level.16
- Obesity among children in the United States has remained flat - at around 17% - in 2003-2004 and 2011-2012.25
- Between 2003 and 2012, obesity among children between 2 and 5 years of age has declined from 14% to 8% - a 43% decrease in just under a decade.25
- Obesity rates in children 6 to 11 years old have decreased from 18.8% in 2003-2004 to 17.7% in 2011-2012; obesity rates for children 12 to 19 years old have increased from 17.4% to 20.5% in the same time period.25
Human and Financial Costs of Inactivity > Obesity
- (2012) Obesity-related illness, including chronic disease, disability, and death, is estimated to carry an annual cost of $190.2 billion.17
- (2010) Projections estimate that by 2018, obesity will cost the U.S. 21 percent of our total healthcare costs - $344 billion annually.18
- (2009) The medical care costs of obesity in the United States are staggering. In 2008 dollars, these costs totaled about $147 billion.26
You've all heard from us, now let's hear from YOU! Established as a nonprofit organization for the people and communities of Minnesota, AKASPORT values everything you do actively!
Here is your chance - kids, families and partner organizations - to submit videos and editorial pieces that display active living.
Whether that be sports, recreation, fitness and health achievements.... let's go! Submit to firstname.lastname@example.org. Share away!
We hope you like the new look and flow website. Keep the dreams alive and the bodies moving. Keeping Kids and Families Active through Sport. #theAKAway