The Youth Sports and Fitness (YSF) program at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) has military youths take a physical examination before participating in high impact and very competitive sport activities.
According to YSF Deputy Director Ricardo Bailey, youth activities like the traveling baseball and basketball teams are more intense and are more demanding physically than the sports activities played in one location. Because of that, Bailey says the youths are thoroughly screened to assess their physical conditions before being allowed to participate.
YSF operatesunder supervision of a JBAB’s Child Development Centers (CDC), which provides a range of activities, such as outdoor/indoor playgrounds, art-and-crafts activities in a classroom setting and sports programs, all geared toward youth growth and development. The CDCs provide services under the direction of the Child Youth and Services Program (CYSP) led by CYSP Director Darrilyn Young.
The YSF operates out of the JBAB Youth Center offering a variety of activities. It provides developmental sports like baseball in three categories: tee-ball (five and six-year-olds), machine-pitch (seven and eight-year-olds) and self-pitch or majors (nine and 10 year olds) and (11 and 12 year olds).
YSF’s JBAB little league team interacts with teams from Joint Base Andrews. That league is coordinated in conjunction with the Military Youth Athletic Conference (MYAC), according to Bailey.
The YSF program, alongside MYAC, also hosts youth basketball and competes against Fort Belvoir, an Army installation in Virginia.
At the CDC near the Youth Center children participate in some form of physical activity each day, according to Young. They have outdoor playtime and engage in one hour of physical activity each day, she said.
The center has incorporated into its physical fitness policy guidance found in the “Let’s Move!” initiative, a program aimed at combating obesity through daily exercise and healthy eating, according to Young.
Asked where this applies at the Youth Center, Young pointed to the “Smart Start” program, an activity managed by Bailey at the JBAB Youth Center.
“Smart Start is a fitness program for children as young as three-years old. In one event, children learn spatial awareness by playing with a ball in an activity that resembles a basketball game,” Young said.
The children are more occupied with space and movement than passing and shooting a ball through hoop. “This helps children develop these skills,” she said.
Physical fitness contributes to the overall growth and development of the youth and that is the chief focus of the program and activities managed by Bailey at the Youth Center.
“We want to educate and provide avenues of information for the youth to embrace and change their habits so they can be physically fit and have healthier lifestyles,” Bailey said.
Bailey also wants parents to be aware of the importance of an active lifestyle for their children.
“We also want to educate the parents because educating the kids and parents gets the message across better,” he said.
Looking forward, Bailey said he would like the Youth Center to host a sports and fitness expo at JBAB in the near future.