TDH, Partners Kick Off Safe Stars to Promote Youth Sports Safety

The Tennessee Department of Health and the Program for Injury Prevention in Youth Sports at The Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt joined professional and collegiate sports officials and other community partners at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville today to kick off the Safe Stars initiative. Safe Stars is a new effort to recognize Tennessee youth sports leagues with high standards of safety for athletes.

“We are very excited to launch this important effort to help prevent sports-related injuries and deaths among young Tennessee athletes,” said TDH Deputy Commissioner for Population Health Michael Warren, MD, MPH. “Safe Stars offers guidance to youth sports leagues to help them create programs that allow young people to enjoy all the wonderful benefits of playing sports and stay safe and healthy while they do it.”

Safe Stars is the first youth sports safety rating system in the United States. The goal of the initiative is to provide resources and opportunities for every Tennessee youth sports league to improve safety standards. The criteria for achieving recognition as a Safe Stars league have been developed by a committee of health professionals dedicated to reducing sports-related injuries among youth. Safe Stars offers three levels of recognition: gold, silver and bronze, and involves implementation of policies around topics including concussion education, weather safety and injury prevention.

“Sport has the power to transform lives. It’s all of our responsibility to make sure that happens in a safe and positive way. My hope is that Safe Stars will be the roadmap for making Tennessee the safest and healthiest state in the country for our youth athletes,” said Alex Diamond, DO, MPH, FAAP, associate professor of orthopaedics and pediatrics and director of PIPYS at Vanderbilt University.

The first leagues to earn Safe Stars recognition are Kingston Parks and Recreation in Kingston; PRIDE Lacrosse Lions League in Kingston; Gallatin Soccer Club in Gallatin and Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation in Murfreesboro.

“Tennessee has needed an initiative like Safe Stars for a very long time,” said Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Athletic Superintendent Thomas Laird. “Cities and organizations that adhere to the minimum requirements at each level are making a commitment to their citizens and patrons to put each child’s well-being above everything else.”

TDH is partnering in the Safe Stars effort with numerous health care, medical, community, athletic and governmental organizations committed to the health and safety of children and youth as well as professional and collegiate sports programs. Safe Stars team members include the National Football League Players Association Middle Tennessee Chapter; Nashville Predators; Nashville Sounds; Memphis Grizzlies; Nashville Soccer Club; Vanderbilt University; Tennessee Technological University; Belmont University; Lipscomb University; Tennessee Medical Association; Tennessee Nurses Association and the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Find a full list of Safe Stars partners at www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/fhw/vipp/safe-stars-initiative.html.

“It is such an honor for the Nashville Predators to partner with the Tennessee Department of Health and the Program for Injury Prevention in Youth Sports at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt,” said Danny Butler, general manager at Ford Ice Center. “With Safe Stars, we have the opportunity to encourage youth sports participation while implementing the necessary tools to create the highest levels of safety possible in all of our facilities.”

The Safe Stars draft is now open, and TDH team members are available to assist youth sports leagues in applying for Safe Stars recognition. TDH also has tools available to help leagues in meeting the qualifications for Safe Stars recognition.

Learn more about Safe Stars at www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/fhw/vipp/safe-starsinitiative.html. The website includes brochures for both parents and leagues interested in applying for recognition, and the application to become a Safe Stars league.

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