POLICY CORNER: ACSM MEETS WITH WHITE HOUSE AND MEMBERS OF CONGRESS ON YOUTH SPORTS ISSUES
Thursday, Oct. 29, saw ACSM representatives meeting with numerous White House and Congressional offices on several of the College’s issues and policy priorities. The centerpiece was a visit with the White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic and Youth Sport. Michael F. Bergeron, Ph.D., FACSM, and Jim Whitehead, Executive Vice President of ACSM, met with Mr. Joe Kennedy and with staff from the office of First Lady Michelle Obama and from the President’s Domestic Policy Council.The meeting underscored how ACSM is uniquely positioned to help the White House achieve its goals.
President Obama established the White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic, and Youth Sport in June to promote the values of the Olympic Movement and encourage increased youth participation in athletics. Michelle Obama’s office seeks to increase the nation’s attention and focus on living healthier. ACSM’s message included an offer to help the White House Office promote health through youth sports and to provide definitive information, recommendations and guidelines for parents, coaches, sporting event officials and administrators, sports governing bodies, and policy makers to enhance the experience and safety of children and adolescents involved in sports.
After the meeting with White House officials, Whitehead and Bergeron traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with Congressman Mike McIntyre (D-NC), who chairs the Congressional Youth Sports Caucus. Rep. McIntyre gave his commitment to sponsor a Congressional briefing in March 2010 on the important issue of health and safety in youth sports.
The next two meetings were with Bergeron’s home-state senators, John Thune (R-SD) and Tim Johnson (D-SD). These offices were very supportive of ACSM’s efforts and offered their assistance to ensure that kids involved in sports are adequately protected. The staff also committed to work with ACSM to identify opportunities to highlight the importance of healthy lifestyles, either through proposing demonstration projects, requesting studies, or creating placeholders in legislation.
The final meeting of the day involved Raymond Thorn, health aide for Rep .Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). Congressman Van Hollen is Assistant to the Speaker of the House and Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He has also been an active member of the Congressional Youth Sports Caucus and chairs the Congressional Soccer Caucus. In addition to talking about youth sports, Whitehead and Bergeron informed Mr. Thorn what ACSM is doing to ensure that more people begin to adopt healthy lifestyles, such as partnering with the American Medical Association (AMA) on launching the Exercise is Medicine™ program.
The meetings reflect ACSM’s continuing efforts to influence public policy supporting physical activity and exercise in the interests of better health for all.