Athletes, coaches and parents aim to boost mental health in youth sports

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — It is part of the Youth Sports Mental Health and Wellness Alliance the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame started up a few years ago. Later this May, the alliance will host “A Youth Sports Forum,” focused on creating a more positive atmosphere in sports programs. This is set to be their first time bringing together young and professional athletes for an in-person event.

After forming the alliance, they realized creating a positive experience within youth sports does not just involve the athletes. It involves the adults too. That includes officials, a position that is getting harder to fill because of toxicity in youth sports, according to Hall of Fame executive director Will Driscoll. He brings it up as just one of many examples for why fostering a more positive experience will help everyone in these programs.

The upcoming forum will feature former professional sports players, coaches and current student athletes. This includes Demetrius “Pete” Allen, a former NFL player. The event is free for anyone who wants to attend, and Driscoll said getting adults involved is crucial.

“We obviously want to provide support for youth athletes,” Driscoll said. “We want to make sure that they’re having positive experiences through sports. But it’s the adults in the room that also need to understand how they can do that. That’s the parents, that’s the coaches. Because the message flows down from the adults.”

Doors to the The Forum open at 5:45 a.m. on May 20 inside Chartway Arena at ODU. After the panel discussions, visitors can take part in breakout sessions with athletes and coaches. While it is free, registration is required.

To register for the event click here.

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