Source: National Athletic Trainers' Association

DALLAS, April 12, 2013 As follow up to the 4th Annual Youth Sports Safety Summit held earlier this year, the National Athletic Trainers' Association continues to champion young athletes by launching the first-ever Safe Sports School award program. Created to recognize secondary schools around the country that provide safe environments for student athletes, the initiative reinforces the importance of providing the best level of care, injury prevention and treatment. This award not only highlights those schools that have put safety first, but will hopefully generate some competition among schools to be the first in their community to receive it, said NATA president Jim Thornton, MA, ATC, CES. We hope that 10 years from now the award will no longer be needed because Safety First will have become the norm. Physical activity is very important for our youth, says Thornton, though physical education classes may not be as common in schools as they once were. At the same time, there has been an increase in competitive sports and not without risk. Brain injury/concussion, cardiac arrest, heat illness, exertional sickling, cervical spine fractures and other injuries and illnesses are potentially life-threatening. Proper planning with proper equipment and personnel is vital to the safety of student athletes today, he continued. In order to achieve Safe Sport School status, athletic programs must do the following: · Create a positive athletic health care administrative system· Provide or coordinate pre-participation physical examinations· Promote safe and appropriate practice and competition facilities· Plan for selection, fit function and proper maintenance of athletic equipment· Provide a permanent, appropriately equipped area to evaluate and treat injured athletes· Develop injury and illness prevention strategies, including protocols for environmental conditions· Provide or facilitate injury intervention· Create and rehearse venue-specific Emergency Action Plan· Provide or facilitate psychosocial consultation and nutritional counseling/education· Be sure athletes and parents are educated of the potential benefits and risks in sports as well as their responsibilities The application for a Safe Sports School award outlines the specific actions that will lead an athletics program to the highest safety standards for its players. A school may earn a 1st or 2nd Team award; 1st is awarded to schools that act on all of the recommended and required elements. 2nd Team is granted to schools that have completed only required elements. Any secondary school can apply, says Thornton. Applications, which require a fee, must be signed by the schools principal or athletic director and an athletic trainer or team physician. Schools qualifying for either award will receive a banner and artwork to promote their achievement. For more information contact sad@nata.org For more information please visit: www.athletictrainers.org. About NATAAthletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity, and provide immediate care for acute injuries. Athletic trainers offer a continuum of care that is unparalleled in health care. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 35,000 members of the athletic training profession. Visit www.nata.org.

Emily Attwood is Managing Editor of Athletic Business.