It’s no secret that sports improve physical health. They are one of the least expensive ways for kids to maintain healthier bones, muscles, joints, lungs, and blood pressure. But the benefits of sports go far beyond physical health and improve children’s mental health and wellbeing too.

A child in our Haiti program smiling while holding cleats and a soccer ball
Social Benefits of Sports


A Supportive Team

By playing on a team, kids can learn important social skills at a young age. They learn how to cooperate toward a common goal and listen to the ideas, wants, and needs of other children. It also provides them with a sense of belonging, opportunities to make friends, and a supportive community which surrounds them on a regular basis.


A Meaningful Coach

Not only do children develop meaningful relationships with their peers, but with their coaches and mentors too. Playing sports helps teach children how to take direction from coaches and follow the game’s rules. They learn to understand being penalized for bad behavior. And regardless of their home life, a good mentor can be a strong and supportive role model.


Emotional Benefits of Sports


Learning Life Skills

When kids start a new sport, they’re not immediately the best at it. Playing for a long time shows them how persistence, practice, and dedication can help them achieve their goals. Dealing with winning and losing can also help them learn to cope with the highs and lows of life. They learn how to take their negative emotions and channel them in a positive, healthy way.


Giving Girls Confidence

The Girls on the Run organization has given sports programming to over 1.7 million girls, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive. 85% of girls said they improved one or more of the five C’s: confidence, competence, caring, character, and connection. Moreover, 97% of girls said sports taught them critical life skills.


Helping to Alleviate Anxiety

Physical activity stimulates positive chemicals in the brain, and research shows that there is a positive link between sports and kids’ self esteem. In a 2019 study by the Aspen Institute, children who exercised regularly were half as likely to report anxiety and depression compared to those who didn’t exercise.


The Big Picture

Mental health is closely tied to physical health, emotional fulfillment, and a strong support system. Children’s wellbeing is holistic, and sports are a great way to help them learn important lessons they can apply to every aspect of their lives. If you’re interested in supporting sports programming for underprivileged children, click here to learn more about how we help.


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