Tricounty News

Cheerleading safety

Cheerleading has grown into an extremely popular sport, going from a sideline distraction to a major sporting competition. Many schools now offer cheerleading to not only high school students, but middle school students as well. Consider the statistics:  - Cheer injuries have doubled in recent years, with stunts becoming more aggressive and therefore more risky, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  - More than 55 catastrophic injuries were a result of cheerleading for high school and college athletes, including 3 deaths, over the past two decades. Here are a few things you can do to make sure your child is safe while cheering:  1. Make sure your child's squad has adopted the AACCA's safety guidelines - The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors has issued a 6-page set of safety guidelines that cover all maneuvers and procedures in exhaustive detail. 2. Make sure mats are available and in place during practices - Because of the sport's nature, some falls and tumbles are inevitable. Mats help prevent serious injuries from occurring. 3. Make sure there is an emergency plan - Emergency protocol should include:  - Immediate access to a telephone and first aid kit;  - Instructions for best route to the closest hospital; and  - Instructions for how to treat a person with a concussion. 4. Encourage your child's coach to be AACCA certified - The AACCA is leading the field with a thorough certification process that includes stunt techniques and safety training that will be invaluable to your coach. As cheerleading grows into a more intense and stunt-oriented sport, parents and school officials must remember that the sport's safety practices will need to keep pace to avoid unnecessary injuries. Don Keenan is a nationally recognized child advocate and founder of Keenan's Kids Foundation, HYPERLINK "http://www.keenanskidsfoundtion.com" www.keenanskidsfoundtion.com. He is the author of 365 Ways to Keep Kids Safe, www.myspace.com/365waystokeepkidssafe, available at www.amazon.com.