Start Smart scores at Youth Center

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Noah Blasdell does jumping-jacks while participating in the Start Smart youth sports development program Feb. 12, 2010.The Whiteman Youth Center provides the Start Smart program to children ages 3-to 5- years-old. The program introduced the children to different sports including basketball, soccer, T-ball and flag football. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Noah Blasdell does jumping-jacks while participating in the Start Smart youth sports development program Feb. 12, 2010.The Whiteman Youth Center provides the Start Smart program to children ages 3-to 5- years-old. The program introduced the children to different sports including basketball, soccer, T-ball and flag football. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Croteau (Right), 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and son Evan Croteau, practice dribbling basketballs during the Start Smart youth program Feb. 12, 2010. The program is provided for parents and children to spend quality time each week while participating in fundamental sports exercises including basketball, soccer, T-ball and flag football. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Croteau (Right), 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and son Evan Croteau, practice dribbling basketballs during the Start Smart youth program Feb. 12, 2010. The program is provided for parents and children to spend quality time each week while participating in fundamental sports exercises including basketball, soccer, T-ball and flag football. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Lt. Col. Jason Armagost, 13th Bomb Squadron commander, passes a soft basketball to his son Reece Armagost, during the Start Smart sports development activity Feb. 12, 2010.Whiteman Youth Center provides the Start Smart program to parents of children ages 3-to 5-years-old. The program provides parents the opportunity to bond with their children while teaching the children basic sports fundamentals. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Lt. Col. Jason Armagost, 13th Bomb Squadron commander, passes a soft basketball to his son Reece Armagost, during the Start Smart sports development activity Feb. 12, 2010.Whiteman Youth Center provides the Start Smart program to parents of children ages 3-to 5-years-old. The program provides parents the opportunity to bond with their children while teaching the children basic sports fundamentals. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Elizabeth Derheim awaits instructions during the Start Smart youth sports program Feb. 12, 2010.Whiteman Youth Center provides the Start Smart program to children ages 3-to 5-years-old. The children spent the hour learning basketball fundamentals and spending quality time with their parents. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Elizabeth Derheim awaits instructions during the Start Smart youth sports program Feb. 12, 2010.Whiteman Youth Center provides the Start Smart program to children ages 3-to 5-years-old. The children spent the hour learning basketball fundamentals and spending quality time with their parents. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Mike Orrison gathers the participants of the Start Smart youth sports program at the end of class Feb. 12, 2010. Mr. Orrison instructed the Start Smart class for parents and children ages 3-to 5 years-old. The program provides parents the opportunity to assist their child in learning sports fundamentals. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. - Mike Orrison gathers the participants of the Start Smart youth sports program at the end of class Feb. 12, 2010. Mr. Orrison instructed the Start Smart class for parents and children ages 3-to 5 years-old. The program provides parents the opportunity to assist their child in learning sports fundamentals. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- An early springboard into the world of youth sports at the Whiteman Youth Center provides both children and parents the opportunity to bond by participating in the Start Smart sports developmental program.

Start Smart introduces 3-to 5-year-old children to different sports including basketball, soccer, T-ball and flag-football. Each, are a six-week, seasonal program.

"The Start Smart program creates a fun and safe atmosphere for children and parents," said Mike Orrison 509th Force Support Squadron sports and fitness director. "Children learn and develop fundamental skill-sets, while spending quality time with their parents."

According to Mr. Orrison, the Start Smart program teaches a unique parenting tool that enhances patience, communication and listening, while building a child's confidence.

"We try to make it as fun as possible," Mr. Orrison said. "We understand the attention span of a 3-year-old is short, but we keep them active. Through repetition, children are taught the basics on how to dribble a ball, hold a bat and kick a ball."

According to Mr. Orrison, showing and teaching children the nuts and bolts they gain a better understanding of how each sport is played.

"Another distinct key to this program, is to really get a child involved in exercise," Mr. Orrison said. "We try to channel a child's energy from running around the house to helping them develop their own set of sports-skills in the comfort of their own home."

During the program, parent and child alike are supposed to take home a different skill set each week, and when they return to the Youth Center for their next visit, they will be provided with a new skill set.

"What's really nice about the Start Smart program is that it's understood when parents and children come in each week, they both know they have a scheduled time block to spend with each other," said Sharon Gangemella, 509th Force Support Squadron assistant sports and fitness director. "It's really important parents get that uninterrupted, one-on-one time with their child for that hour."

According to Mr. Orrison, parent and child interact in a non-competitive manner because it's one-on-one.

"Even if a child is not interested in the particular sport, they might get something out of it for the hour they are there," Mr. Orrison said.

According to Mr. Orrison, the Start Smart program has had really good success.

"I really enjoy the time I spend with my children, while building a positive and healthy image for them," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Dyer, Start Smart participant.

"Graduates of the Start Smart program can take the valuable knowledge they get and use it throughout their life," Mr. Orrison said.

Those interested are encouraged to come to the Youth Center on a Monday or Friday at 5 p.m. to check out the Start Smart program in person, to learn more about it.

To sign up for the Start Smart program and find out more about entry fees, contact the Youth Center at (660) 687-3199.