Competitive sports can be life-changing. Is your child ready to take part? – National

by BBG Hub

Eight-year-old James had only been doing recreational gymnastics for six months when his coach asked him if he wanted to compete.

According to his mom, Jackie Patrick, James was always very athletic and competitive. He loved skiing, soccer and basketball, but he never found a sport he really loved — until gymnastics.

“My older son was very content doing more solitary things, like reading… but [James] liked to be among other people in an environment that was active, with lots of things moving around,” his mom said — so the gym was a good fit.

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By the time he was nine, James was spending six to nine hours per week in the gym on training alone — and that was before the time spent actually competing.

Because of the time investment, Patrick made a concerted effort to get her family involved.

She joined the board at James’ gymnastics club, she brought her older son to competitions as much as possible — she liked to make those weekends away “bonding time” — and she made sure James truly understood what he was committing to.

“It’s very important to open up the doors of communication with your child [and] discuss what it is that they want,” said Patrick.

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Parenting expert Gail Bell agrees — communication is key.

“You need to make sure your child wants to do this,” said Bell. “Sit down beforehand to lay out the expectations and make it very clear.”

For Bell, it’s most helpful to write down the schedule on a piece of paper or a calendar.

“Kids are very visual,” Bell said. “For example, explain that on Wednesdays, they must be at the swimming pool by four. That means they can’t stay on the playground and play after school.”

Whether your child is thinking about playing a competitive sport or is already, there are some things you should consider.

Is your child old enough to compete?

According to Richard Monette, managing director of Active For Life, children shouldn’t specialize in most sports until they’ve reached the age of puberty. (Although there are some exceptions, like gymnastics.)

“Every sport in Canada is mandated by a long-term athlete development model specific to that sport,” said Monette. “That’s mandated by Sport Canada, and that dictates… what each child should do within their involvement in their sport at a specific age.”

The model is based on science, and it exists to prevent children from being injured, among other things.

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“When you overtax certain parts of your body when you’re younger, you’re [more prone to injury],” said Monette.

“As well, if they specialize early and they get to age 14 and they’re sick of that sport or they’re burnt out, then they have no other options.”

When children do a multitude of activities, they develop many different skills. This will help them stay active well into adulthood because they will have more options for engaging with sport.

Is your child actually having fun?

“Is your child running out of school, eager to go? That’s a kid that’s having fun,” said Bell.

Bell recommends choosing a trial period. That way, both you and your child have a date when you can quit if it’s not working for your family.

“I highly encourage parents to re-evaluate every term or semester,” said Bell.

Coaches can also have a big impact on whether a child is enjoying themselves.

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That’s why, for Patrick, it was crucial to constantly check in with James about how he was getting along with his coaches.

“There are different types of coaches: Some are overly competitive and very self-absorbed, and others are [focused] on the growth of the athlete,” said Patrick.

“You want a coach who has your child’s best interests at heart.”

Make sure you’re in it for the right reasons

“‘Is this for me or my child?’ That’s a key question to ask,” said Monette. “For some parents, it’s difficult to remove their own ego from the equation.”

Bell has seen this happen many times in her line of work.

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“In competitive sports, we know that a lot of parents are over-involved,” said Bell. “I would strongly suggest the parents ask why they want this for their kids.”

If it’s because you’re living vicariously through your child, then it’s probably not the best scenario.

It’s all about striking a balance

You should also ensure your child has enough time to do other things outside of the sport they play at a competitive level.

“When is their downtime? When are they getting to the park, just to play? What other sports are they playing? Is this impeding on their sleep time? Their homework time?” Bell said.

In the same vein, kids shouldn’t be allowed to shirk responsibilities because they play a competitive sport.

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“That’s not creating a balanced child,” said Bell.

“If the whole world becomes about that sport, and that sport doesn’t turn out for them, or they get injured, or they realize they don’t love it as much… there’s a big hole in their life. We don’t want to make it all about [that one sport]. That’s just one thing they do within their whole life.”

Competitive sports aren’t the only option

Patrick said her son learnt most of his transferrable life skills from his time as a gymnast.

“Commitment, dedication, persistence and resiliency… and those attributes really transfer to university studies and to the workplace,” Patrick said.

Bell agreed that competitive sports can teach a child several great skills, but she emphasized that those shouldn’t come at the cost of the child’s happiness.

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“There are tons of values that kids learn from sports… that we can apply to real life, but it’s not the only place you can learn them,” said Bell.

You can also learn these skills from other activities, such as music or school work.

“If a child has talent, that’s great, but it has to be kid-driven. And if you have a very driven kid, it’s the parents’ responsibility to talk to them about other aspects of life,” said Bell.

“Sports can be a lifelong joy… but they should be for enjoyment.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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20-year-old left to raise 5 siblings after parents died gets surprised with new car – National

by BBG Hub

In the last five years, Samantha Rodriguez and her five siblings lost both their parents to cancer.

The 20-year-old Orlando woman was not only left to raise her younger siblings alone, but take on the cost of feeding them, clothing them and getting them to school. But Rodriguez had one major roadblock — she didn’t have a car, CNN reported.

Earlier this week, Orlando’s Orange County Sheriff’s Department invited Rodriguez into their office without any explanation. When she arrived, the department revealed an image of a new Nissan Versa on stage.

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“It’s yours,” an officer said.

“When they told me the car is for us, I remember thinking, ‘They just took away all these worries and stresses,’” she told the site. “It was such a big weight off my shoulder and will help so much.”

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After her parents passed away, Rodriguez knew she had to keep the family together. Between the ages of five and 17, some of her siblings had the chance of ending up in foster care.

“I knew what I had to do,” she told CNN. “I learned so much from my mom. I was like her sidekick. I learned what it meant to raise a family.”

She moved to the county to be close to her grandmother.

“It can be tough knowing when to be like a parent and when to be their sister,” she continued. “Sometimes, it can feel like I’m alone.”

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The community first found out about this young woman raising her own siblings in December 2018. The sheriff’s department first shared the family’s heartbreaking story on social media after they came in for a tour during Christmas time. They also gifted them with new toys.

“[The] Facebook post blew up asking what they could do further for the family. When I stopped looking at it, it was 17K likes, by the end, we were at 50K likes,” Major Deputy Jason Sams told Yahoo News.

“We didn’t expect it at all — it blew us away that people stepped forward,” Sams said.

On Monday, the department shared this family’s story and announced that anonymous donors pitched in to buy Rodriguez a new car.

“Wow, I’m in shock,” she said in the video.

“You don’t know how much this means to us, it’s such a big help. You know, doing everything on my own is very hard, but I’m so glad to have people like you guys in my life.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Meghan Markle, Prince Harry break tradition with ‘private’ birthing plan – National

by BBG Hub

The royal baby will be here any day now, and parents-to-be Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are breaking tradition and revealing certain details of their birthing plan.

A statement from Kensington Palace officials on Thursday says that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex “look forward” to sharing the news of their baby’s birth once they have had a chance to celebrate privately.

This means that unlike Kate Middleton and Prince William, Markle and Prince Harry are not likely to show their newborn on the steps of the hospital hours after welcoming their child. This “stepping out” is a common Royal Family tradition.

Instead, Markle, 37, and Prince Harry, 34, will likely have an official photocall a few days after the baby is born.

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“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very grateful for the goodwill they have received from people throughout the United Kingdom and around the world as they prepare to welcome their baby,” the statement reads.

“Their Royal Highnesses have taken a personal decision to keep the plans around the arrival of their baby private. The Duke and Duchess look forward to sharing the exciting news with everyone once they have had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family.”

Royal commentator Victoria Arbiter tweeted on Thursday that the couple may not even reveal Markle has given birth until a few days after the fact.

While Markle and Prince Harry have remained quiet on the sex and name of their baby, royal onlookers are confident they are having a girl. Bets are also placed on the name of Elizabeth, after the Queen.

READ MORE: ‘We’re in uncharted territory’: Royal expert shares everything she knows about baby Sussex

There’s also much speculation around where Markle will give birth.

Princess Diana and Middleton gave birth in the Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital in London, but it is unclear if Markle will do the same.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are currently living at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, so some royal experts say Markle may give birth closer to her residence.

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In the past, the public was officially alerted when a member of the Royal Family was admitted to hospital to give birth.

Since Markle and Prince Harry want their privacy, they may try to keep her labour announcement under wraps.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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