FOX Sports and Good Sports donate fitness equipment to Boys & Girls Club at the Dickerson Center.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
During the pandemic, it has been challenging to keep local youth playing, participating in sports and physically active. However, the local Boys & Girls Clubs are addressing it with the help from entities in the sports industry.
On Monday, kids in the Boys & Girls Club at the John H. Dickerson Center in Daytona Beach got to play, exercise, and flat-out have fun.
FOX Sports and Good Sports donated free sports equipment for the endeavor through the Restore Play initiative, which included parachutes, agility ladders, speed rings, ankle speed bands, mini hurdles and jump ropes.
“We’ve really had to be creative with social distancing during the pandemic but also providing the kids with the club experience,” said Tangela Hardy, unit director of the John H. Dickerson Boys & Girls Club.
“This equipment is going to help us a lot. It will give us an ability to spread them out and be more creative.”
Restore Play is a nationwide program designed to provide $15 million in sports and fitness equipment to get kids active and playing again during and beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re seeing many youth serving organizations trying to keep their kids engaged during the pandemic. Our goal is to provide program leaders with the best gear possible,” said Christy Keswick, chief operating officer at Good Sports.
Good Sports is a non-profit organization pushing sports and physical activity among youth. It donates equipment, footwear and apparel. Since 2003, it has donated $57 million in equipment to 7 million kids and impacted more than 4,200 programs.
“With Restore Play and partners like FOX, Good Sports is able to donate much-needed sports equipment to help kids get physically active as well as develop social skills and lifelong cognitive abilities alongside their peers,” stated Keswick.
Pre-Daytona 500 event
During the event, youngsters participated in speed and agility drills inside the historic Ralph Robinson Gymnasium at the Dickerson Center. They wore masks and social distancing measures were taken. FOX also took video footage of the kids doing the drills.
Restore Play is happening at all of the Boys & Girls Clubs across Volusia and Flagler counties, which services over 300 youngsters.
It’s also being done ahead of and in honor of Fox Sports’ television broadcast of the Daytona 500, which takes place on Feb. 14 at the Daytona International Speedway at 2:30 p.m.
Playing and learning
COVID-19 has put a damper on the Boys & Girls Club services and experiences.
“Prior to COVID, we could take them places now we really can’t. We’ve really had to be creative to find ways for them to have fun and learn at the same time,” expressed Hardy.
The other challenge has been doing physical and outdoor activities.
Hardy noted, “We try to do two hours a day. The city lets us in an hour today. The kids need their play time. We are further from the playground; now we can do things closer to the building.”
Kailen Hall, 9, was one of the young participants who was grateful for the playtime.
“It’s a good opportunity to play and have fun. We still have to deal with COVID, but we are being safe and still having fun,” Kailen told the Daytona Times during the Dickerson Center event.
Focus on health
Children also weighed in on the health benefits of sports and physical activity.
“It was fun. I like it. It’s important to have some physical activity or some things can go wrong in regard to your health when you get older like heart attacks and such,” said 10-year-old Tyreice Neal.
Herman Butler, 14, added, “Today was fun and exciting. It was a lot to do. I liked the parachutes. It is important to work out. It gets me out of the house and not eating all the potato chips.”
About the Club
The John H. Dickerson Boys & Girls Club has one full-time and two part-time staff members. The program serves 44 kids ages 6 to 18 years old. Rules allow for 25 kids to one staffer. The program in Daytona has a partnership with the city of Daytona Beach.
“We are thankful for FOX Sports and Good Sports for thinking of us. It’s a blessing. I prayed just for us to find ways to keep the kids engaged. It is also great that the parents trust us to keep the kids safe,’’ Hardy added.