Measure Announced Today Could Lead to More Athletic Trainers for Underserved High Schools

At the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) 66th Clinical Symposia and AT Expo in St. Louis today, the NFL Foundation, NATA, Gatorade and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS) announced the expansion of the athletic trainer outreach program for the 2015-2016 school year, funding additional athletic trainers in underserved high schools nationwide. The groups will contribute more than $2 million to the program, doubling last year’s $1 million contribution, as well as provide educational resources, hydration solutions, equipment and programmatic support.

In August, a nationwide contest will launch to give high schools across the country an opportunity to win funding for athletic trainers to help ensure the safety of their youth athletes. In addition, NFL teams will continue to provide athletic trainers in NFL communities where they are most urgently needed, building on efforts started by the Chicago Bears in 2013 and taken up by 16 NFL teams in 2014. To date, the outreach program is impacting more than 160,000 youth athletes across more than 670 schools nationwide.

“The NFL Foundation is proud to expand this program to more schools keeping more athletes of all levels safer,” said Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President Charlotte Jones Anderson, chair of the NFL Foundation. “We are pleased that Gatorade is joining NATA, PFATS and NFL teams as we continue improving youth athlete safety across all sports for boys and girls by making available athletic trainers across the country.”

“The National Athletic Trainers’ Association continues to champion the need for increased athletic trainers and the importance of sports safety protocols in high schools across the country,” said NATA President Jim Thornton, MA, ATC, CES. “With just 37 percent of all high schools having full-time athletic trainers, we know the expanded NFL Foundation high school initiative with the support of NATA, Gatorade and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society will help to ensure best practices are in place for underserved schools. Together, we will improve the quality of health care young athletes receive.”

“We know how important secondary school athletic trainers are to the health and safety of the over eight million U.S. high school athletes – which is why supporting this profession has been a focus of our 30+ year partnership with the NATA,” said Jeff Kearney, senior director, Gatorade Sports Marketing. “We believe this program is an important step toward the ultimate goal of having a full-time athletic trainer in every high school in the country, and we couldn’t be more excited to support the NFL and NATA’s efforts.”

“The Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society has a longstanding commitment to youth sports safety and recognizes the important role we play in providing NFL athletic trainers on-site at schools for additional expertise and education,” says Rick Burkholder, MS, ATC, PFATS president and head athletic trainer of the Kansas City Chiefs. “Our collaborative work with the NFL Foundation, NFL teams and NATA in year one of this program had such terrific impact and success that we know this expanded effort, now with Gatorade’s support, will make a difference in the health care these young athletes receive.”

In May 2014, at the first-ever Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit at the White House, President Obama announced the NFL Foundation was committing $25 million to test and expand health and safety projects over the next three years. That commitment included $1 million to fund athletic trainers in underserved high schools nationwide in 2014 in collaboration with the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society.

Athletic trainers play an important role in keeping young athletes safe. According to a new benchmark study, just over one third of every high school in the United States has at least one full-time athletic trainer.  A study from the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that the presence of athletic trainers can have a significant positive impact on student-athlete health, resulting in lower injury rates, improved diagnosis and return-to-play decisions for concussion and other injuries, and fewer recurrent injuries.

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