(JERSEY CITY) – Assembly members Charles Mainor (D-Hudson) and Benjie E. Wimberly (D-Passaic/Bergen) are encouraging community, school and sports leaders to attend the Sport Based Youth Development Forum this weekend, which will bring together a panel of experts from throughout the country to discuss how sports and healthy play can play a vital role in youth development.
The forum will be held on Saturday, June 2 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at P.S. #4, Frank Conwell Auditorium, 107 Bright St., Jersey City, New Jersey. Admission is free.
The forum is sponsored by Mainor and non-profit organization Creative Minds Youth Development. Wimberly, head football coach at Hackensack High School and former Paterson Catholic head football coach and mentor to New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, is one of the panelists.
“Research shows that children who are active and involved in sports do better in school, are more likely to attend college and are less likely to be truant or drop out of school,” said Mainor. “That is why we need more sport based youth development programs that will cultivate and nurture not just the athletic talent of our young people, but their social and emotional development to help them succeed academically. These programs are not necessarily meant to generate more professional athletes, but give young people a channel through which to create opportunities for themselves.”
“Playing sports provides more than just physical benefits; they can help kids excel academically and socially as well,” said Wimberly. “In communities like Jersey City and Paterson, sports programs also help young people stay out of trouble by providing a safe haven and mentoring relationships. We should be investing in more programs that introduce children to active and healthy lifestyles, encourage positive social and academic development and exposure to positive role models.”
The discussion will focus on two key areas: how local and national organizations use sports and healthy play as a positive change agent for youth development; and what it means to be a competitive student athlete, including how the student athlete experience has positively shaped the lives of the panelists and what it takes to become a successful student athlete before, during and after college.
Panelists include national non-profit leaders and partners of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign; Olympic athletes and national governing bodies of track and field and US lacrosse; former student athletes; national sport based youth development leaders; nationally acclaimed coaches and Jersey City Schools Interim Superintendent Franklin Walker.
The forum hopes to help the Jersey City community accomplish several goals, including advocate for youth health and fitness, provide affordable and accessible traditional and non-traditional sports opportunities, encourage a strong volunteer coaching and training network and develop feeder programs to high school sports and academic programs.