Brick Township will be offering children ages 9-12 free athletic training every Saturday as part of a program designed to “help them achieve their personal best physically, mentally and emotionally in both sports and life,” an announcement said. The training is not only a fun way to get in shape and hone one’s skills on the weekend, but will also help young people avoid injuries that notoriously lead to prescription painkiller use.
Sports Saturdays are being presented by the Brick Municipal Anti-Drug Coalition, also known as BMAC. The 90-minute training sessions are open to boys and girls and will be held every Saturday from March 19 through June 18 at the Brick Civic Plaza. Sessions begin at either 8:30 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. The program is free for participants. Parents can register their children for one or more sessions. There is a limit of 30 children at each session.
Each Sport Saturday training session is 90 minutes. The program provides enhancement of general fitness levels, sports-specific training, and the importance of leadership qualities, problem solving and character development designed to help youth increase self-esteem, awareness and resiliency as substance use prevention strategies.
“We reinstated BMAC so that we could provide the young people of Brick Township with programs like Sport Saturday,” said Mayor John Ducey. “This program will not only help young people improve their athletic abilities, it will give them tools to help them become better people.”
Trainers are provided by Mentor Academy of New Jersey and are certified physical education teachers as well as youth sports trainers.
Councilwoman Andrea Zapcic, who spearheaded the revival of BMAC several years ago, said programs like the weekend sports training sessions are important in the fight against opioid addiction.
“The drive towards more professionalism in youth sports has caused an increase in over-use related orthopedic injuries in children ages 12 and up,” she said. “Evidence suggests that a youth’s first exposure to a prescription opiate is often for treatment of injury or post-operative pain.”
Zapcic said that studies show youth exposed to prescribed opiates before high school graduation have a 33 percent increased risk of using opiates recreationally in the years after graduation, including those with a previous unfavorable attitude toward drug use.
Sport Saturday is funded through the BMAC grant provided by the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (GCADA).
Register for Sport Saturday in the Recreation Office, 270 Chambers Bridge Road, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. or online at register.communitypass.net/bricktownship. Call 732-262-1053 for more information.