Any parent knows children need exercise. Children not only need exercise because they are young and full of energy, but also as a way to clear their head after spending all day in school. Aaron Locks, CEO of The National Academy of Athletics, knew this and decided to start a program dedicated around getting children to participate in different sports.
Rohnert Park has been partnering with NA of A since 2012. The program is four weeks long and consists of kids ranging from 4-12 enjoying different sports and activities. This helps kids be kids and allows them to stay mentally fresh.
This year has been especially difficult for children, parents, teachers and coaches alike. Children have been stuck at home because of stay-at-home orders, forced to take online classes and wear masks without understanding why. That’s why having something like All Sorts of Sports return is so good for everyone involved.
Stephanie Buechner and her husband Aaron have been doing camps for children for the last ten years or so. Stephanie is the Director of Physical Education for the National Academy of Athletics, while her husband Aaron is the assistant baseball coach for Santa Rosa Junior College, while also working in the Kinesiology Department.
The first try for this event last month was put on hold by the City of Rohnert Park because of Covid-19 concerns.
“I would say when things first got cancelled it was pretty difficult because of the unknown and us not really knowing how we would get the kids out playing again,” Stephanie said. “I think that once the protocols came out with Covid-19, the social distancing guidelines and how to get kids playing in a safe way, we as a company have been very diligent keeping up with that.”
“As the information came in, we were getting trained, staying up-to-date so when we did get the green light to hold after school stuff, we knew exactly what to do regarding social distancing, the safety guidelines and cleaning.”
According to Buechner, it was difficult to get the event started, but now that it’s happening, everything has been pretty smooth. She said a mask is required for checking in and social distancing is required while on the field. The children don’t have to wear a mask while they are on the field for an hour and a half but can if they choose to.
It was apparent watching this event in person just how excited the kids were to be out. Seeing the joy in their faces while running, kicking around the soccer ball and interacting with each other was a wonderful site. The pandemic has been the hardest on the children, so seeing them out on the field really made you feel good. Buechner agreed with this assessment.
“We all know these kids need physical activity for their mental and physical health,” Buechner said. “It was devastating hearing about the kids having to stay indoors and not have these physical activities, so when we were able to get the green light to go ahead with this event it was huge.”
Physical activity creates endorphins which go directly to the brain. These endorphins stimulate the brain in so many ways. The kids will feel better physical, mentally, emotionally, they will eat better and sleep better. With exercise everything in life is better.
Usually after school programs like this will be unlimited, however due to the strict Covid-19 restrictions, that isn’t the case this year. Buechner said each age group is allowed just twelve kids. At the beginning of each day the parents have to check the kids in, so it is very limited for obvious reasons.
The first day of the camp consisted of soccer and relay races. Buechner says soccer is just one of the sports on the agenda for the month-long camp.
“During these four weeks we are really trying to break up and play as many sports as we can,” Buechner said. “You see a lot of kids just playing certain sports year-round, like only going to soccer or basketball camps.”
Some of the sports mentioned were basketball, noodle tag, Dodgeball and other catch and pass games. Some others are relay races, Simon Says, Duck Duck Goose and other silly games.
During this time of uncertainly, one thing remains clear: children need to be active in whatever means necessary. If kids are not active, they can make everyone around them miserable. With Covid-19 it is much harder, but something that needs to be done and done safely. What Stephanie, Aaron and NA of A are doing for the next month is a welcome sight for parents and the community as it is getting us back to some semblance of normalcy.