• Bill Caine, Contributing Writer

Start Smart Sports are a hit with kids and their parents

THE LOCAL START SMART SPORTS program is part of a national program built to help children learn fundamentals while having a fun experience. (Photo by Bill Caine Photography, www.billcaine.com)

At Falling Springs Arts and Recreation Center, there is a buzz about youth sports programs - specifically, the Start Smart program for preschool aged children. The program is part of a national program built to help children learn fundamentals while having a fun experience. The program is designed specifically to have parents be part of the learning to encourage a fun atmosphere. "Building motor skills that will bring confidence for the future." said Parks and Rec Director Rainey Johns. "We want to provide that fun, positive experience, so the kids want to play the game down the road." When families arrive at the first practice, they are greeted by Johns's big smile and enthusiasm. The fun begins with sets of drills for each specific sport that allows the kids to try to throw or kick a ball. The children are put into groups with their parents, and each grouping works on a skill set and rotates every 15 minutes until all stations have been completed. The children are always given motivational speeches to encourage their efforts. "The feedback has been positive, and I think the parents really enjoy this time with their kids." said Johns. "It's a very laid back first experience for sports with no pressure whatsoever." Falling Springs offers basketball, soccer, golf and baseball currently and the staff uses age appropriate equipment with all of their participants. There is plenty of smiling, laughing and learning taking place all at once during these programs. "The kids meet for six weeks for one-hour sessions, and at the end, we have a trophy presentation after the game." said Johns. "Watching a kid perform a skill that they did not think they could do, seeing them overcome that is an amazing feeling. "The skills learned in these programs will benefit the children as they grow older and play at a more competitive level," said Johns. Falling Springs Arts and Recreation Center can be reached at 859-873-5948.

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