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Sanford Researcher Meets with White House Staff and Congressional Leaders

Dr. Michael F. Bergeron Works to Improve Youth Sports Safety

(Sioux Falls, SD) Michael F. Bergeron, PhD , FACSM, Director of the National Institute for Athletic Health & Performance and Center for Youth Sports & Health at Sanford USD Medical Center recently joined Jim Whitehead, American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Executive Vice President, for meetings in Washington, DC to discuss ways to improve youth sports safety. Bergeron and Whitehead met with White House and Congressional offices on a wide range of ACSM issues and policy priorities.

The primary focus of the visit on October 29 was to meet with Joe Kennedy from the Office of Public Engagement and Liaison, who specifically works with the White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic and Youth Sport, to discuss how Bergeron and ACSM can help the White House Office promote health through youth sports via a new national initiative lead by Bergeron. “This initiative intends to provide current information, recommendations, and guidelines for parents, coaches, sporting event officials, administrators, sport governing bodies and policy makers to enhance the experience and safety of children and adolescents involved in sports”, said Dr. Bergeron.

The White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic, and Youth Sport was established by President Barack Obama in June to promote the values of the Olympic Movement and encourage increased youth participation in athletics. In addition to Kennedy, staff members from First Lady Michelle Obama’s office who are promoting a policy agenda to increase the nation’s attention and focus on living healthier and staff from the President’s Domestic Policy Council also participated in the meeting.

After meeting with White House officials, Bergeron and Whitehead traveled to Capitol Hill for meetings with key Congressional offices to explain the national initiative on health and safety for young athletes and related ACSM policy priorities. These meetings were with South Dakota Senator John Thune and the office of South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson, as well as North Carolina Congressman Mike McIntyre, Chair of the Congressional Youth Sports Caucus, and Raymond Thorn, Health Legislative Assistant for Maryland Representative Chris Van Hollen. Congressman Van Hollen is an active member of the Congressional Youth Sports Caucus and serves as Chairman of the Congressional Soccer Caucus.

Dr. Bergeron is also working with ACSM on strategies for enhancing the role of youth sports as a platform for promoting physical activity and health as part of the developing National Physical Activity Plan.

To learn more about his visit to Washington, DC, click here.