As a mother, I believe it's our job as parents to always worry about our children and to think about what's best for them. With everyone now heading back to school, our kids are making decisions on which activities they want to be a part of this year. We should use this time to educate ourselves and ensure we're helping them make the right choices. There are many benefits to participating in team sports -- it helps our kids become mentally and physically healthier, hones their social skills and builds a strong work ethic and self-discipline. My love of course is football, but the same benefits are there no matter the sport your son or daughter chooses.
I grew up watching football, and my two sons, ages 18 and 12, are no different. In my family, football is more than a sport -- it's a passion. After my sons asked persistently, I decided to let them play the game. I would advise any mom whose son wants to play football to learn as much as possible about the sport by familiarizing yourself with the rules, regulations and safety measures. My first priority is always safety -- just as I wouldn't let my kids get in a car without a seatbelt, I wouldn't want them on the field without the proper equipment and before knowing the coach's approach to safety matters.
The NFL is committed to making football a better and safer game for our children, and several programs have been put into place for our youth players.
With a $30 million commitment to the National Institutes of Health for medical research and a $60 million partnership with General Electric to find new ways to protect the brain, the NFL is dedicated to making the game we love safer for the ones we love. The league has led advocacy for the passage of youth concussion laws, currently passed in 48 states and Washington, D.C., and will continue to pursue the very best safety measures for athletes of all ages.
The NFL Foundation, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to improving the health and safety of sports, youth football and our communities. We offer funding opportunities to youth leagues and high school teams so they can improve their programs. We offer a variety of support, including allocating funds to purchase new helmets and other essential equipment, hiring athletic trainers and providing coaching seminars.
Through a $1.5 million NFL Foundation grant, we launched a nationwide program with USA Football called Heads Up Football. The program provides coaches, players and parents the tools to play the game safer, including education on proper tackling techniques, concussion management, and equipment fitting. Heads Up Football leagues have a player safety coach whose sole responsibility is the health and well-being of the players, and the leagues ensure that all coaches are certified each season.
Be an active participant. As a parent, it's not enough just to worry about your kids' safety. Learn about the game of football and the safety measures that have been put in place to protect them so you worry less. Ask the tough questions: find out whether your child's coach is Heads Up Football certified. Educate yourself about the symptoms of a concussion and other potential injuries so you know what to do and who to call. Heads Up Football and USA Football put together this checklist for parents (available on the USA Football free app), which I make sure is with me and other parents on the sidelines of our kids' games.
Providing our kids with the right equipment and making sure it fits properly is key to increasing safety of the game -- that goes for any sport. While there is no way to prevent all injuries, a football helmet can help protect your athlete. I encourage parents to learn about how a football helmet and all protective equipment, including pads, should fit. For information on equipment fitting visit USA Football Resource Center.
Safety is the number one priority for the NFL and parents of young athletes, and we're continuously working to make the game safer for our kids so they can play the game we all love.
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