National Youth Sports Health & Safety Institute Celebrates 10 Years

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National Youth Sports Health & Safety Institute Celebrates 10 Years

Eric Utterback, NYSHSI Program Officer |  Sept. 15, 2021

child playing soccer next to  copy that reads On September 15, 2011, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and Sanford Health (Sanford) established a partnership to create the National Youth Sports Health & Safety Institute (NYSHSI). Today, we celebrate 10 years of supporting youth sports stakeholders, our athletes, parents, coaches and administrators. 

The need for NYSHSI was underscored by a poll that showed 91% of Americans felt sports participation is important for children and adolescents. The same poll indicated that 94% felt more needed to be done to ensure the health and safety of youth athletes. These concerns were and continue to be fueled by reports of heat illness, concussion, undiagnosed heart conditions and other issues affecting athletes of all ages. 

“Protecting children is paramount in youth sports,” said William O. Roberts, M.D., FACSM, ACSM past president and NYSHSI Leadership Board Chair. “I’m not just talking about sports injury. It’s protecting them emotionally, mentally as well as physically, including abuse of any type. Ten years has flown by, and I’m even more excited for the work that’s to come as we strive to help provide the best and safest sports experiences for our youth.”  

Here are some highlights from NYSHSI’s first 10 years working to enhance the experience, development, health and safety of our youth in sports:  

  1. Organized the “Developing the Healthy Youth Athlete Conference” with ESPN Wide World of Sports and other partners to envision a world where every kid between 6 and 17 has a chance to play organized sports. 

  1. Created NYSHSI Seal of Best Practices Partner to recognize community organizations’ commitment to safe and healthy youth athlete participation and development. 

  1. Developed Youth Sports Pledges for parentsathletes and organizations, asking each to fulfill the 10 elements of support for the best youth sports experience. 

  1. Released NYSHSI Healthy Youth Sports app to educate and creatively engage youth and adults in youth sports, health and safety. 

  1. Set up NYSHSI YouTube and SoundCloud pages to share videos and podcasts for youth sports stakeholders. 

  1. Hosted an innovation think tank on Regenerative Medicine and Youth Sports: Current Status and Future Directions for Research and Clinical Practice and published corresponding manuscript in the May/June 2017 issue of ACSM’s Current Sports Medicine Reports. 

  1. Produced a Youth Sports e-Toolkit for quick and easy access to resources for kids, parents and coaches.  

  1. Partnered with Sanford fit to create free resources for coaches and parents on healthy choices and proper body mechanics for young athletes.  

  1. Established key partnerships with the U.S Center for SafeSport, U.S. Center for Coaching Excellence, Physical Activity Alliance, U.S. National Physical Activity Plan SPORTS Sector, National Youth Sports Strategy as an NYSS Champion organization, Aspen Institute/Project Play 2024, Sanford fitSports, as well as the Sanford Sports Science Institute. 

  1. Developed first Youth Sports Policy Agenda to engage state legislators to act on seven critical areas of athlete health. 

“ACSM is thrilled to celebrate the 10th anniversary of NYSHSI and extremely thankful for our ongoing partnership with Sanford Health,” said Kristin Belleson, ACSM CEO. “Involvement in youth sports is vital to the development of young people and helps to foster physical, social and emotional health and well-being. We look forward to continuing our important work through NYSHSI to help enrich the lives of children and adolescents through physical activity and sport.” 

“ACSM has been an outstanding partner for us here at Sanford Health,” said Nate Blessen, System Executive Director, Sanford Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. “NYSHSI has developed and participated in a variety of programs and resources for our youth athletes, as well as contributed to various activities over the past decade. With continued ACSM member support and expanded external partnerships, we have our sights set for even higher achievements in the next 10 years.”  

As we enter the next season, NYSHSI will continue to foster and develop strong alliances and partnerships with like-minded organizations. You can help too! Refer a partner organization or get involved in our advocacy efforts. Connect with NYSHSI Program Officer Eric Utterback at for details. You can also follow NYSHSI on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest to access the latest resources.


Eric Utterback, NYSHSI Program Officer