Danvers Indoor Sports pivots to meet needs of families during pandemic
DANVERS — As young students continue to lose crucial active play time due to online learning restrictions, Danvers Indoor Sports has made it a priority to bring sports programming to children in the area.
Danvers Indoor Sports, a multi-sport complex focusing on training children of all ages, has created COVID-19 friendly activities in which students can participate.
As older children tend to have programs such as soccer lined up for them after school, there is a lack of safe activities for ages 2 to 12.
To combat this need and to bring social interaction for students learning online, the facility is hosting ‘DIScover P.E.’ blocks for ages 6 to 12, which run after school Monday through Friday for up to three hours.
Sandy Mahoney, facility coordinator at Danvers Indoor Sports, said this new program is essential in keeping younger children active.
“Giving them an hour on a turf surface just to run around and act like a kid brings that stress release, anxiety release, [and] helps them focus when they get back home or behind a desk,” said Mahoney.
Youths will be involved in active play, sports, as well as fitness activities all facilitated by a coach to promote safe interaction and skills.
Twenty-five children are allowed in each block at a time, split into groups of no more than 10. Though the 1-in-10 ratio model is being used, there are usually two coaches with the children, depending on the age group.
Mahoney said the program is essential in providing an outlet for students who don’t know how to handle these new challenges in their lives, giving them the ability to express their thoughts.
For a shorter amount of play time, Danvers Indoor Sports has created a ‘DIScover R.E.C.E.S.S’ program in which hour time blocks of supervised free play can be reserved for groups of 10 and under typically within the same family or group.
There is no curriculum during this hour; however, sanitized sports equipment will be available for use, and a coach will be supervising participants. The program is also available for children 6 to 10.
This can fill the time of a normal recess for children conducting online learning, as the hour will give the student a chance to play like a child, an aspect taken away through the screen.
“I guess the bottom line is we want to get them off their couch or out of their desk and on to a playing surface at least,” said Mahoney. “As guidelines show, at least an hour of activity a day is beneficial in so many ways.”
Danvers Indoor Sports is also offering programming for toddlers up to elementary school aged children, including a soccer program, as well as a multi-sport program for ages 2 to 5. For youths in kindergarten through fifth grade, football and basketball activities are also available.
The programs will continue to be available as the demand arises in order to give flexibility to families whose schedules are changing consistently with online and in-person learning.
Following state guidelines, all participants of the programs will be social distancing as well as wearing masks. Hand-washing is frequent as well as temperature checks when participants enter the facility.
Kelly Cragg, owner and managing member of Danvers Indoor Sports, said many coaches are using a ‘mask-check’ signal to make sure kids are wearing their mask correctly at all times, as they tend to slide down children’s faces while being active.
Mahoney said a difficult part of working with younger children is that she can’t encourage them with typical smiles or high-fives due to restrictions. She explained that she has had to relearn the way in which she coaches to make sure everyone is safe.
“We’re being mindful as far as the quality and the enhancements that we’re making to make those families feel safe enough to come out,” said Cragg. “It’s been a challenge, but people that have taken part in our programming have only given us strong, positive feedback.”
As the colder weather sets in and children are forced to move inside, more families will be looking to return to indoor sports, Cragg noted.
“We are doing everything we can to make sure that we’re bringing these families in and we’re doing it as safe as possible,” said Cragg.
For more information on how to get involved in programming at Danvers Indoor Sports, visit www.danversindoorsports.com.
— Madison Schulman is a student at Endicott College studying journalism.