Each year, U.S. emergency departments treat an estimated 173,285 sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, among children and adolescents, from birth to 19 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many are football-related, and children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recover than adults.
That’s why the Atlanta Falcons, in partnership with USA Football, will host a free Mom’s Football Safety Clinic on June 24 at Park High School in Livingston. Registration is required and space is limited.
It is the first Mom’s Clinic outside one of the 32 NFL market cities. At least 75 women have already registered; hundreds more from across the region are expected. Their children are ages K-12.
The event will help provide mothers, whose children are interested in playing tackle football, with the latest information about the safety of the game through USA Football’s “Heads Up Football” program.
The clinic will include classroom instruction on concussion awareness, heat and hydration, proper equipment fitting and strength and conditioning. One of the sessions will include on-field drills.
Concussions can also occur from a blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth — literally causing the brain to bounce around or twist within the skull. Unlike a broken ankle, or other injuries you can feel with your hands, or see on an X-ray, a concussion is a disruption of how the brain works.
Justin Green, a former NFL running back who now coaches running backs at the University of Montana, will be on the field shepherding moms through some of the drills. Current Falcons tight end Bear Pascoe and two Falcons alumni players, safety Shann Schillinger and wide receiver Kerry Meier, have confirmed they also will attend the clinic.
The connection to Montana as the first market comes from the owner of the Falcons, Arthur Blank. He has a deep connection to Montana through his ownership of the Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in Paradise Valley and his philanthropic work in the community through the Mountain Sky Guest Ranch Fund, said Todd Wester, director of curriculum and instruction for Livingston Public Schools Districts 4 & 1.
“Parents are concerned these days about how safe football is,” Wester said. “The Falcons have been holding these clinics in the Atlanta area with a great deal of success. This shows that there is an approach to football that can be much safer.”
The NFL knows that safety is a real concern when it comes to youth and their participation in sports, Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons, told the Billings Gazette. As the NFL looks to promote the benefits of playing the game and expand safety education relating to the game, USA Football and the Atlanta Falcons partnered to bring this program to a non-team market, he said.
“Montana was a natural fit for us to help spread the message with Arthur Blank having deep connections with the Montana community,” McKay said. “Hosting an Atlanta Falcons Mom’s Safety Clinic in Livingston is another way that we can give back to the communities that we feel most passionate about.”
The goals of the Livingston Moms Safety Clinic are two-fold: to help expand the NFL’s engagement in youth football safety into non-NFL markets across the country and reframe the conversation around youth football safety to create a sense of confidence among household decision-makers, most of them moms, when it comes to sports participation.
This clinic provides instruction on proper equipment fitting, tackling techniques and concussion recognition and awareness so that they can personally play a role in their childrens’ participation.
To help parents feel even more connected, a question and answer session is scheduled with Chris Golic, wife of ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike co-host Mike Golic and Advisory Committee member of USA Football Heads Up Football. She is also the mother of three collegiate athletes.
Dr. Elizabeth Pieroth of NorthShore University HealthSystem, who serves as neurological consultant for the Chicago Bears, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Fire and Chicago White Sox and is a member of the Heads Up Football Advisory Committee, also will answer questions.