MomsTEAM Institute, a leading 501(c)(3) youth sports safety advocacy, education and watchdog non-profit organization, has been named as a "pioneer organization" to implement the International Safeguards for Children in Sport in the US, in a global initiative coordinated by UNICEF UK.
Based on a set of child safeguarding standards drafted in 2012 by a working group of international youth, sport and development organizations, coordinated by UNICEF UK, with support from UNICEF, and based on the work of the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) of the United Kingdom's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty To Children (NSPCC), the Safeguards were formally launched at the Beyond Sport summit in Johannesburg, South Africa in October 2014.
MomsTEAM is among a select group of 40 sport and development organizations from across the globe working with UNICEF UK to further develop, implement and test the safeguards by making them an integral component of MomsTeam Institute's SmartTeamsTM program, a series of best health and safety practices it is currently developing with a group of U.S.-based experts for implementation by sports programs across the country.
The Safeguards aim to:
- help create a safe sporting environment for children wherever they participate and at whatever level;
- provide a benchmark to assist sports providers and funders to make informed decisions about child safety in sport;
- promote good practiced and challenge practiced that are harmful to children; and
- provide clarity on safeguarding children to all involved in sport.
"MomsTEAM Institute and I are honored to be joining such an important coalition of organizations from around the world in working to safeguard children in sport," said the Institute's Executive Director, Brooke de Lench. "I have enormous respect for the work that UNICEF and the CSPC have been doing, and have long advocated for ratification by the United States of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which the Safeguards are designed to support in the context of youth sports."
Unlike almost every other advanced country in the world, the United States lacks any national standards or programs safeguarding the safety of children in sports, de Lench noted. "Our aim, by partnering with UNICEF UK, and in modelling our SmartTeamsTM program on the
International Safeguards for Children in Sport, is to fill that vacuum through voluntary implementation by sports organizations across the country, which will also provide the accountability and transparency which is currently lacking."
"From working with parents, coaches, administrators, and other youth sports stakeholders in every state over the past fifteen years, I know that they share my belief that protecting the psychological, emotional, physical and sexual safety of children in sports should always be our number one priority. Implementing the International Safeguards for Children in Sport will help us make that goal a reality."
Liz Twyford, UNICEF UK Sports Programme Specialist and coordinator of the Safeguarding Initiative, said: "All children have the right to participate in sport in a safe and enjoyable environment; it is a crucial part of a happy, healthy childhood. These Safeguards aim to enable everyone involved in sport to stop and think about the risks to children, and have appropriate measures in place to prevent these risks from becoming reality"
"We are really pleased to be working with the MomsTEAM Institute to further this work in the US, particularly given their longstanding leadership in this sector, and look forward to working together to make sport safer for children everywhere."
MomsTeam Institute, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt Massachusetts non-profit corporation and advocacy, educational and watchdog group for young athletes with a mission of providing youth sports stakeholders with comprehensive, practical information and best practice resources to keep all children safe physically, psychologically, and sexually while playing sports.
MomsTeam Institute provides a comprehensive well-researched online information resource. Its website, MomsTEAM.com, which was launched in 2000 by a group of leading experts, has become the most trusted source of youth sports information, widely recognized as the top website of its kind for athletes, sports parents, coaches, athletic trainers, and other health care professionals about all aspects of the youth sports experience.
The SmartTeamsTM program, which grew out of a set of concussion management best practices called The Six PillarsTM featured in the MomsTEAM-produced PBS documentary, "The Smartest Team: Making High School Football Safer" is based on a set of comprehensive, sport- and issue-specific, and easy-to-understand "best practice" standards of care templates and checklists being developed by the Institute and its Board of Advisors, covering all aspects of youth sports health and safety, from injury prevention and risk reduction, and nutrition and hydration guidelines, to preventing all forms of physical, psychological and sexual abuse. Programs adopting such best practices will be eligible for designation as a SmartTeam. MomsTEAM Institute will be selecting pilot programs in six sports in 2015 to test the Smart Team approach and implement the International Safeguards for Children in Sport, and will be seeking funding from corporations, foundations, and allied non-profits interested in safeguarding sports-active children to underwite the program.
About Brooke de Lench
Ms. de Lench is Executive Director of MomsTEAM Institute, and Founder and Publisher of MomsTEAM.com. Recognized as a visionary thought leader in youth sports safety and a pioneer in concussion education for the past fifteen years, Ms. de Lench is Producer/Director/Creator of the critically acclaimed PBS documentary "The Smartest Team: Making High School Football Safer". An active journalist and blogger for MomsTEAM, Ms. de Lench is the author of "Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports" (Harper Collins), and a sought-after lecturer, keynote speaker, and symposium panelist on a wide range of youth sport topics. For Brooke's full biography, click here.
For a full copy of the International Safeguards for Children in Sport developed by the International Safeguarding Children In Sport Working Group, click here.
For more information on the UN Convention On The Rights of the Child, click here.