Youth Sports Alliance offers new program for Treasure Mountain students

Officials say participation in extracurricular activities teaches teamwork

Jack Petersen catches a medicine ball while standing on a balance ball during a balance exercise during a Youth Sports Alliance middle school program last year. The nonprofit is hoping hundreds of Treasure Mountain Junior High School kids participate in similar programs this school year.
(Park Record file photo)

When the Youth Sports Alliance unveiled a new program last year aimed at getting middle school students involved in sports and other activities, there was just one problem.

Eighth-graders were left out. The program, called ACTiV8, was for grades six and seven at Ecker Hill Middle School, and meanwhile, ninth-graders at Treasure Mountain Junior High School are eligible to participate in extracurricular activities through the high school.

“(Eighth grade) was kind of like the middle child,” said Heather Sims, director of youth programs for the Youth Sports Alliance. “It was like, ‘Wait, we’ve kind of forgotten about eighth grade here.’”

Sims helped cook up a remedy. The Youth Sports Alliance this school year is expanding ACTiV8 to Treasure Mountain, giving both eighth- and ninth-graders access to activities like mountain biking, rowing and disc golf.

The Youth Sports Alliance has long offered sports opportunities to elementary students in Park City through its popular Get Out & Play program. But after learning that many Ecker Hill students take buses to hang out in Redstone after early release from school on Fridays, Sims wanted to provide them with a more productive — and supervised — way to spend their time.

“At that middle school age, it’s a fine line between being good kids and taking the wrong path,” she said.

From that, ACTiV8 was born. Sims’ first step was to call on the area’s businesses and nonprofits. They were enthusiastic about the idea, pledged to pitch in and were ultimately a major reason the program was successful in its inaugural year at Ecker Hill.

“Every single one of them said they would help,” she said. “I think they wanted to put something on, but they didn’t really know how to go about it.”

The organizations have once again offered their backing for the expansion to Treasure Mountain, Sims said. However, the list of activities that will be available comes from the students, who selected the kinds of things they’re interested in pursuing. There will plenty of athletic endeavors, but offerings like photography for students who want to participate but don’t necessarily enjoy sports will also be included.

Amy Jenkins, assistant principal at Treasure Mountain, said giving students the control to pick the offerings increases participation.

“If you somehow present it as their idea, they’ll come in droves,” she said. “But as soon as you say, ‘Hey, I’ve got this great idea,’ they run the other direction.”

She added that taking part in extracurricular activities is a great way for students to learn skills they’ll carry through life and also help them become well balanced and happy.

“It teaches teamwork, it teaches collaboration,” she said. “And it keeps kids in a structured environment so they’re making good decisions. I think what we see about the physical activities, and even some of the creative ones, is that it’s stress relief. It’s a fun way to kind of let down and enjoy doing something.”

Sims said that the Youth Sports Alliance is happy to play a leading role in providing students with those kinds of opportunities.

“Without a doubt, there’s a need as a community,” she said. “This is the age where it’s critical to get the kids involved in activities. There are obviously a lot of kids involved in ski programs, but there are a lot of kids who don’t have anything.”

For more information about ACTiV8, visit the Youth Sports Alliance website, Programs begin Sept. 18 at Treasure Mountain and will run throughout the school year. Scholarships are available for students whose families can’t afford to participate.


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