Some lucky Duval County middle or high schools could receive new football helmets this academic year thanks to a new campaign from The Tony Meduri Fund, Inc. called Play It, Protect It, that will focus on concussions in youth sports.
There are about 3.8 million concussions that occur in competitive sports each year in the US, and more than half of these concussions occur in children.[i] Concussions are a mild traumatic brain injury or “TBI” and can happen in almost any sport, at any moment. It happens when there is a physical blow or jolt to the head.
“As the mother of two active boys who love to play sports, my youngest son for years has been begging me to play football, the one sport with the highest rate of concussions. This simple fact inspired me to address the need to teach our children how important their brains are and that if you were going to ‘play it, to protect it’. I knew that was the name of the program and knowing my experience of caring for a father with a TBI for seven years, that the risks were too high not to address it.
Boys’ sports account for 75% of all concussions, with football more than half of all concussions. Soccer had the most concussions among girls’ sports.[ii] Girls may be at greater risk of concussion while playing soccer due to “heading” the ball, a lack of protective gear, and an emphasis on contact during the game, researchers have suggested.[iii]
Concussions in youth sports are particularly concerning as recent evidence suggests that the earlier in life a concussion is experienced, the higher likelihood of having prolonged complications. This is potentially due to injuring a brain that is still developing. There are 30 million kids in organized sports programs throughout the country.[iv] Concussions results in more than 100,000 emergency department visits for school-aged children each year in the United States.[v]
“I believe the risk of concussion is too great not to act and that is why The Tony Meduri TBI Fund, Inc. has launched a new campaign “Play It, Protect It” to promote helmets and safety in youth sports in Duval County,” said Ms. Tucker.
The organization plans to raise funds to purchase high-quality helmets which can cost upwards of $1,000 per helmet; generate awareness of concussions by working with local area Athletic Directors to give presentations and engaging students as youth ambassadors to spread the word via social media.
“While there is no concussion-proof helmet, a high-quality helmet can mitigate the risk of a TBI,” said Ms. Tucker. “To raise the funds for helmets, we of course need financial donations from the public and organizations, and we are selling “Play It, Protect It” apparel as well.”
The organization would like to select at least two schools to be the recipients of football helmets based on its fundraising, while the campaign lasts through 2020. Its goal is to raise $25,000.
The Tony Meduri TBI Fund Inc. is a local, nonprofit organization that has been operating since 2015 to raise awareness of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and support survivors. It started after Ms Tucker’s father suffered and eventually died from a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The organization runs the well-known fundraiser Tony’s Turkey Trot in Jacksonville Beach each Thanksgiving.
The website is http://www.TBIFundInc.com. The link to the shop for apparel is there, as well as how to donate. The public can also follow this campaign on Facebook and Twitter @tbifundinc or on Instagram @playitprotectit.
[i] http://www.protectthebrain.org/Brain-Injury-Research/What-is-a-Concussion-.aspx. Accessed September, 2019.
[ii] https://www.medstarsportsmedicine.org/research/which-youth-sports-cause-the-most-concussions/. Accessed September 2019.
[iii] https://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20170315/which-high-school-sport-has-the-most-concussions. Accessed September 2019.
[iv] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/7-myths-about-kids-concussions-and-sports/. Accessed September 2019.
[v] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0887899415001800. Accessed September 2019.