“The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake. This isn’t the kind of problem that can be solved overnight, but with everyone working together, it can be solved. So, let’s move.” 

— First Lady, Michelle Obama

KICS Healthy Kids focuses on our VALUE of educating youth and families about childhood obesity and keeping children active through sport. In partnership with Mercy Hospital nursing staff and foundation, we began measuring youth players in our Chicago KICS programs. Our results show a very healthy average BMI of 16.87 and an obesity/overweight rate of only 14.5% – this statistic is outstanding compared to the average inner city obesity/overweight rate of over 30%. We are continuing to work with US Soccer Foundation and other stakeholders to encourage a healthy average BMI for youth participating in KICS programming. 

Having kids do sports goes way beyond the benefits of just keeping them active so they get tired. For starters, kids who participate in sports have stronger muscles and bones. It also helps keep their weight under control, which is important considering the child obesity problem we are seeing. Being active in sports will also help keep their heart healthy because it improves cardiovascular endurance. Being on a sports team also helps kids with social interactions, building teamwork, and leadership skills.

1.    Teamwork requires cooperation and compromise. It can also teach empathy in the form of learning good sportsmanship when something doesn’t go their way on the field. Being part of a team helps them with confidence and boosts their self-esteem when they’re part of a group of peers with similar likes and goals. They also learn responsibility and discipline. They have to listen to and respect their coach and their peers when on a team.

2.     Kids who participate in sports also seem to do better in school. High school students know they have to keep up a specific GPA in order to continue to play their sport, and so this is one way to encourage good study skills. Physical activity has also been shown to help keep their mind sharp as they build new problem-solving skills on and off the field.

3.     Finally, there’s perseverance. Athletes are often in high-pressure situations on the field. They have to figure out how to quickly adapt to these situations and work through them. This helps with coping skills and critical thinking as they face challenges in life.