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Active play and sport participation build resilience in youth

Jun 08, 2015
written by: Catherine Cameron
written by: Catherine Cameron
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Last weekend while at the park with a friend, my 13-year-old daughter flew off a swing and landed face down, fracturing a bone in her face. One kid, three fractures over the years. I’m seriously thinking about camping out in the ER.

Happily, she won’t require surgery and is expected to heal well. The most challenging part of all of this will be the “no-sports” rule for the next couple of months. But as she reminded me (while we were still at the hospital) she’ll be healed in time to attend her summer sleepover camp as she has for many years – she’s already counting the days.

Despite crashing to the ground and in immense pain, Emma was able to retrieve her phone, dial home, and pass the phone to her worried friend. She knew she needed help and she knew how to get it. She also wasn’t about to speculate as to the nature or treatment of her injuries – she likes to deal with facts as she has them.

To make a long story a little shorter, I’ve been struck by just how resilient my daughter has become. Some of this has undoubtedly come with maturity, but I also believe sport participation and good old-fashioned active outdoor play have had a key role. They’ve taught her…

• That sweating the small stuff is rarely a good use of time or energy
• That sometimes we need to take risks
• To win and lose
• That bumps, bruises, scrapes and injuries happen… to all of us
• That we’re often much stronger than we realize
• To learn from mistakes and move on
• To be accountable, to be self-sufficient, and to learn to trust and rely on others
• To believe in herself
• To resolve conflict in a peaceful and thorough manner
• To be more empathetic towards others
• Problem-solving and leadership skills
• To think critically and creatively
• The importance of having a sense of purpose
• To respect and trust in herself
• That she’s capable of learning and mastering new skills
• To manage and thrive in challenging situations… and not to fear them
• That optimism can change outcomes

Here’s to more active play and sport participation for all kids… and their parents too!


Tell us how tennis and sport participation has helped your kids grow. Tweet with us @cate_cameron and @TennisCanada