"Jeff Beedy has been a pioneer in using sports to teach lessons beyond the playground. In Positive Learning Using Sports, he has put together an amazing resource to help coaches become effective teachers of life as well as their sports. It is an invaluable resource for school leaders who want their sports programs to be the equal of their academic programs in having a lifetime impact on their students”
Jim Thompson, Founder and Executive Director Positive Coaching Alliance
Jim Thompson, Founder and Executive Director Positive Coaching Alliance
PLUS AWARENESS PROJECT
Sports as a Platform for Education and Youth Development
“Working carefully and conscientiously over 30 years, bringing the best research has to bare, Beedy has produced Positive Learning Using Sports. This no nonsense, level headed approach to the integration of academics, ethics and engagement for youth needs to be part of every school’s agenda.””
Robert Selman PHD Harvard University
PLUS is a global campaign to raise awareness of the potential of sport as a natural, accessible, and inexpensive platform to transform people's lives for the better. PLUS partners with local communities, schools and organizations to train leaders how to better use sports to teach self-advocacy, leadership, and compassion. PLUS envisions a world where all sport-based organizations teach what children need to live safe, happy lives.
Sports provide a meaningful platform to connect with children. We seek to reach children who may be marginalized due to ability, ethnicity, geography, and economics. PLUS aims to be locally inspired and self-reliant and focus on creating and developing sustainable and replicable results.
THE PLUS AWARENESS PROJECT: THREE GOALS
Our vision is to train and empower community mentors throughout New England to understand how skills such as reliance and compassion can be taught within their respective sport programs at no cost. PLUS understands sports are not always positive for all children. What is also true, if organized intentionally sports can offer a powerful opportunity to teach skills youth need such as resilience and compassion. The key is being intentional in the design and delivery. If we want children to learn to be compassionate than we need to intentionally design our programs to teach compassion. Beginning in the fall of 2020, PLUS will travel to underserved communities in New England and conduct free workshops for coaches, parents, and youth mentors.
One goal of the PLUS Awareness Project is to introduce the potential of sports as an educational platform to communities already participating in youth sports. A second goal is to connect communities to current best practices in sport-based education and youth development and train the leaders on the latest sport-based education practices. The third goal is to understand how this new sport-based educational platform can best be delivered to these communities as a sustainable educational option. The PLUS Awareness Project has designed a five-step inventory aimed to help leaders learn how to use their programs as a platform for positive growth.
A MESSAGE FROM THE FOUNDER
In 1984, we founded Positive Learning Using Sports (PLUS) as a means of reaching and teaching children through an activity they enjoy. PLUS focuses on skills children will need to succeed in their respective environments including problem solving skills, resiliency, and compassion. These skills and the community in which they learn them can serve as natural deterrents to deviant behavior. In a study conducted by Ladis (2017), it was found that students who feel connected to a community of positive peers are less likely to get involved with deviant peers and will be less likely to fall prey to negative forces such as substance abuse, truancy, gang culture, and crime. We live in global world, one that will pose increasingly complex economic and political, as well as environmental challenges to our children. In order to prepare our youth, PLUS offers a new area of hope—a new educational platform--sports intentionally designed for positive social development.
Around the globe
In India, The Magic Bus, a sport-based youth development program, takes “children and young people on a journey from a childhood of abject poverty and challenges such as child marriage and child labour, to a fulfilling life with a respectable livelihood.” In South Africa, Women Win, a global sport-based organization for women’s rights, educates adolescent girls on sexual and reproductive health and gender and economic balance through sports. In Somalia, Jeff Asoro employs soccer as a medium to teach courtesy to children who have witnessed decades of violence and bloodshed in their communities. Waves for Change utilize surfing to deter boys from entering violent gangs in South Africa. On the island of Cyprus, the Olympic Doves Movement and PLUS employ sports as a platform to heal the injustices of decades of hurt between the Greek and Turkish families. In Tampa Florida, the Skills Center uses Positive Learning Using Sports, as a way to attract inner city children to afterschool academic enrichment programs.
A new platform for education
The outcome goals maybe different in each program but the platform and process is the same. For children in war-riddled areas of the world the goal maybe developing skills to stay safe. In rural parts of Africa, the goal maybe to teach women how to heal from gender related violence. In wealthy communities of New England the goal could be the role of mindfulness in the lives of children. In the poorer counties of the world sports can provide an inexpensive and powerful medium for developing critical socio-emotional skills and ways of communicating through compassion and a path to employment. Without access to education and employment children are less likely to be contributing members of society. The goal of PLUS is to reach children who may be marginalized due to economic, geographic, and social reasons. According to the Aspen Institute (2017),
In 2012, 46.9 percent of kid’s ages 6-12 in household incomes of under $25,000 played a team sport at least one day. At the time, there was very little difference in participation numbers between those children and kids in homes with incomes of $25,000 to $49,000 (49.3 percent). And even the gap between the lowest- and highest-income kids was “only” 17 percentage points. By 2017, that gap had doubled to 34.9 percentage points. The kids in homes under $25,000 were now 10.5 percentage points behind just the next highest class. Poorer kids are being left behind in all aspects of society, and sport is no different.
Train the trainers
The same Aspen institute study suggests that less than 4 out of 10 coaches receive any training on working with youth. In addition to soccer skills such as dribbling, youth mentors need to understand how to teach critical life skills. Without intentional training the positive outcome is random. This is the end goal of PLUS. The PLUS Awareness Project seeks to teach community leaders on how to utilize sports as the educational platform. My original thesis at Harvard in the eighties charted the cartography of a new domain—sports as moral pedagogy, built on a foundation of research and experience. Over the last three decades this research has fueled the proliferation of new sport-based programs that offer hope to educators who hope to utilize these programs to empower youth. Please join me to help children around the world with the skills and tools to better their lives and prepare them for the future.
Jeffery Beedy Ed.D
Founder of Positive Learning Using Sports
Many children across impoverished counties in New England do not have equitable access to youth sports. The lack of access to enrichment programs leads students to become disengaged with their education and feel a lack of community connectedness. Moreover, because of limited exposure students are not getting the same quality of education their more affluent peers in wealthy districts are receiving. Youth who are not engaged in learning critical skills can fall prey to negative forces such as substance abuse, truancy, gang culture and crime. There are healthy concerns as well. A recent Health Survey for England (2017) reported 16% of 2-15 year old children and one in five aged 11-15 to be obese. Children need access to educational opportunities that are intentionally designed to teach children skills they will need to become productive citizens in school, work, and at home. Teachers, parents, and coaches need resources to become skillful mentors and educators that will aid in the cultivation and empowerment of today’s youth. PLUS aims to play a role in addressing this problem through our programing so that disenfranchised families and their children can bridge the gap toward a successful future for their youth.
The Solution: Sport as an educational medium
Over 45 million school-aged children participate in youth sports in the United States each year. Many more children play in the backyard and on the streets. Participation alone, however, does not guarantee positive development. Intentional design is the key. Sports provide an inexpensive and underutilized platform to teach critical skills. Sports are the attraction and delivery platform for many of the necessary skills for success. Recent studies show sports can be more effective than classroom learning for the skills necessary for success in the 21st century. In Iceland sports-based youth programs have radically reduced teenage smoking, drinking and drug use in the past 20 years. The key to Iceland’s success is intentionality and community involvement. Organized youth sport programs are expensive and for marginalized low-income families transportation can be a barrier. PLUS helps communities start their own youth programs to reach the marginalized families as well as create a value added approach to existing youth sport programs.
A NEW MODEL FOR EDUCATION
PLUS aims to educate communities on how to apply the new sports-based education principles to their existing and new community sports programs. Similar to Montessori and Outward Bound Models, the PLUS approach is a comprehensive, integrated, and developmental sport-based educational program that draws upon longstanding educational theory and research-based educational practices that serve school-aged children. PLUS utilizes the Five Essential Question Inventory as a guide for training and evaluating all community programs. The PLUS Five Essential Question Inventory assists educators, coaches, parents, and community stakeholders take inventory of their needs, understand how to adopt policies, and develop initiatives to help meet their goals. In order to ensure that participants are gaining the necessary knowledge and skills PLUS offers workshops that include the Five Essential Question Inventory, which will help guide the specific design of each program’s goals and initiatives. Each organization will be offered access to the PLUS educational website and become connected to an association of sport-based programs and like-minded individuals.
PLUS Five Essential Question Inventory
The following five-question inventory aims to help leaders address the essential elements of the PLUS program. Community leaders need to ask and address these questions in depth if they aim to successfully achieve the mission and vision of the PLUS program.
Question 1: What is important?
The first and most critical question of the PLUS Five Question Inventory aims to have programs, educators, parents, and community stakeholders take inventory of what is important for their individual programs. It is the assertion of the PLUS program that no method of educating youth should ever be one size fits all. This question stems for the belief that because we can’t expect all students to learn in the same ways, we must understand they don’t all need to learn the same things. For example, some programs may find that the most important skill to their students is mindfulness and diversity literacy while other programs may need to focus on other things like respect and emotional literacy. By focusing on tailored goals programs can more effectively execute initiatives that help their students achieve these goals. This question forces stakeholders to ask, What is important? The philosophy of any program defines why we are doing what we are doing and what we want to accomplish. We need to know what is important. This question can be asked by coaches, teachers, and by parents. For parents you need to ask what is important for your child to gain from participating in youth sports? What are your end goals? Do you want your child to be more respectful? The coach needs to ask what is important for my organization or program? What is my program trying to accomplish? Our program’s philosophy drives all of our decisions and serves as a template as we think about issues ranging from distribution of playing time to how we address social and moral issues as a team and provide opportunities for learning.
Question two: How is what’s important caught?
The second question is the natural step after identifying what is important to the stakeholders of a specific program. The second question asks participants to consider how is what is important caught? To clarify, there is a difference between identifying what is important and making sure students also deem it important and acquire or learn the important. This question aims to answer how children learn the intended end-goal through the chosen activities and initiatives. As mentioned before, educating youth cannot be approached from the paradigm that it is one size fits all. Children’s ability to learn or catch what is important is dependent on a variety of factors such as their age, gender, ability, level of interest, and stage of development. We need to stop and ask do our activities match the child’s skill level, interest, and development? Success is equated with how well the program matches the developmental needs of the children. The sport program may have great intentions but if is not designed to meet the developmental needs and skills of a six year-old than positive development is at risk. How do you know your child is learning? We want to be aware of how children learn in general, and, specifically, how children learn important program goals such as teamwork and responsibility at different ages. To answer this second question we can turn to the psychology of how children learn. We can also look at the interest and ability of our children. The important question for parents is to determine if the program is designed to meet where the children are at developmentally (so they can catch what is important).
Question three: How is what’s important taught?
The third question asks How is what is identified as important being taught? How we “teach and coach” can be understood as our pedagogy. Do the coaches yell? Is there a deep respect for the child? How do coaches gather and talk to the children? How do we talk with our children after a win or loss? How does the coach address conflicts within the team? The answer to these questions tells us something about the coach’s pedagogy. If one of the goals is to teach teamwork, for example, it is important to explore the best ways to teach the concept of working together as ten-year-olds. The team’s pedagogy takes into account the team’s philosophy and psychology as well as the program’s outcome goals.
Question four: What are the learning activities (Programs)?
The fourth question asks What are the learning activities? Once we have thought through our philosophy, psychology, and pedagogy we need to think about what activities or programs we will employ as a platform for teaching our goals. The activities need to reinforce the team’s philosophy and outcome goals. Activities are the platform for learning. All of the activities including practices, team meetings, team orientations, readings and rituals make up what we call our program. The program activities are the places in which the learning takes place. Program activities are the platforms we use to teach the goals of fair play and respect. It is important to expand our vision of what it means to play on our team. Is there a daily warm-up meeting where the players are allowed to discuss their goals? Are the players encouraged to keep a journal of their thoughts? Is there a built-in time to practice mindfulness? Sports can be much more than practices and games. The “coach as teacher” understands that within the program or season there are many ways to bring the team together and provide opportunities for learning. Special dinners, bowling parties, adventure courses, special guest are all a part of the organizations programs. Parents too, have the opportunity to expand their child sport program to include inviting team members for overnight. Parents can have cookouts with a theme built in. Parents can connect theme-related books and movies that bring a different perspective to understanding teamwork and respect. Parents can read with their children about role models and famous athletes. These are all examples of the organization’s activities that add to the overall learning experience.
Question five: How do we know our children are learning what is important?
The fifth questions asks How do we know our children are learning what’s important? As parents we want to know if our child is progressing. Similar to school we can discuss how our children are progressing on concepts like respect and responsibility. Respect and responsibility can be quantified and defined in measurable terms—not just left to the coach yelling “hey we need more teamwork!” We do not want to leave the learning to chance. How do we know if our child is actually developing an understanding of respect? Positive sport-based programs seek to measure the growth of the programs end goals. The new science of sport-based learning provides tools for coaches and teachers to define their program’s outcome goals (i.e., teamwork, respect, responsibility), and design pre- and post- tests to determine how successful their program is in promoting those goals. Parents can do the same through simple exercises and discussions. It is one thing to state that “sports are good for everyone” and quite another to announce teamwork as a desired outcome goal and have the ability to demonstrate how well the program did to advance team players’ understandings of teamwork.
Why use children’s sports?
Sports provide parents and youth leaders with essential elements of child development. The children’s passion for sports is the draw. Sport is the learning platform. Children learn best when they are passionate, engaged, and having fun. School is not the only platform to reach children. This intrinsic motivation for sport can be harnessed to teach important life skills they may not have chance to learn in other areas of their life. These are not new ideas. What is new is that these initiatives are intentional in design.
Intentionality is the key. These innovative sport-based programs are designed with a specific goal of teaching children something they need in their life. For children in war-ravaged areas of the world the goal maybe developing skills to stay safe. In rural parts of Africa, the idea may be to teach women how to heal from gender related violence. In one creative private high school girls are introduced to life sports such as fly-fishing, golf and skiing preparing them to feel confident and empowered as they move through college and into the work world. Competitive sports such as soccer and basketball are wonderful for many girls. Lifelong sports like hiking and golf are all-inclusive and can provide a girl a powerful friend through the school years and later in the workplace once dominated by men. The idea behind sport-based education is to use sport as platform to engage children and through this engagement promote skills that the children need to survive in their respective environment.
The key for all programs is intentionality. Simply rolling out the ball and expecting something magical will occur and children will somehow learn to persist in the face of difficulties is wishful thinking. What makes this new movement compelling is that so many children around the world love to play sports. Passion and fun attract the children to programs. Participation and intrinsic motivation are key to hope and development.
PLUS PROGRAM PRINCIPLES
When implemented in its entirety, PLUS can have a profound impact on the children and community. The following principles are key elements to the PLUS program.
Educational medium Sports possess the unique social and educational components to promote collaboration and engage in dialogue and conflict resolution. Children learn best when they passionate.
Inclusion PLUS includes children who may be marginalized for reasons of gender, religion, ability, ethnicity, disability or social background.
Integration PLUS seeks to connect and utilize all aspects of community including classrooms, sports in the educational process.
Transferability Lessons learned about critical thinking and problem solving from sports are transferable to other areas of a child’s life including home and school.
Strengthen local self-reliance The goal of PLUS is to be locally inspired and supported, and with sustainability and replication as the long-term goals. PLUS seeks to promote community self-reliance.
Sustainability PLUS builds the community’s capacity to take full ownership of the program following the active project implementation. The ultimate goal is to hand over the program to the community
Replication An important goal of PLUS is for schools around the world to replicate the principles
THE OLYMPIC CLUB
We need to raise $100,000 during the design stage (June 2019-June 2020) to build out the educational website, further design the certification workshop, and contact the participating communities. PLUS will seek lead gifts from corporations and private donors. PLUS focuses on a new area of hope—sport as a way to learn important life skills. To make PLUS a reality, to bring these important life lessons forward, to make a difference in the world using positive learning through sports - this will require private financial support and commitment. We are proud to introduce the Olympic Club Sponsorship Program. This is your opportunity to step up and show your support.
Founders Circle $10,000
Gold Medal Sponsor $5,000
Silver Medal Sponsor $3,000
Bronze Medal Sponsor $1,000
*PLUS is a 501c3 non-profit organization.
WHAT EXPERTS SAY ABOUT PLUS
“In a time when one fad in education often follows another, Jeffrey Beedy has demonstrated the perseverance necessary to making a difference when the stakes are high and the impact can be great. Just as competitive athletes must have discipline to achieve their goals, for Education in the United States to get the best out of its students, it must show the discipline necessary to integrate the natural engagement of youth to sports into their educational life. Working carefully and conscientiously over 30 years, bringing the best research has to bear, Beedy has produced Positive Learning Using Sports. This no nonsense, level headed approach to the integration of academics, ethics and engagement for youth needs to be part of every school’s agenda.”
Robert L. Selman, Ph.D. Professor of Human Development and Education and Psychology in Medicine Harvard University
Everything I have learned about (and from) folk music is paralleled in Jeff Beedy's remarkable book. Singing together creates community, helps define ethics and engenders respect. Sports approached with "positive learning" accomplishes the same. The magic of Puff is definitely on Coach Goodsport's team.
Peter Yarrow, Peter, Paul and Mary
Jeff Beedy has been a pioneer in using sports to teach lessons beyond the playground. In Positive Learning Using Sports, he has put together an amazing resource to help coaches become effective teachers of life as well as their sports. It is an invaluable resource for school leaders who want their sports programs to be the equal of their academic programs in having a lifetime impact on their students.
Jim Thompson, Founder and Executive Director Positive Coaching Alliance
Jeff created the PLUS model. I have often turned to his now classic book, Sports PLUS, for ideas and inspiration. It is used as a basic reference by sport psychologists and youth sport leaders throughout the world including China, Spouth Korea, Africa, Cyprus, and throughout the United States.
Brenda Light Bredemeier, PHD Pioneer in Sports and development
This book will prove invaluable, for sure, to thousands of parents and coaches and to the young people whom they are meant to instruct and inspire. In page after page we are offered so very much wisdom-hints and suggestions about how we might be more honorable and decent human beings.
Dr. Robert Coles Pulitzer Prize Winner
The PLUS Model is a powerful way to encapsulate the profound metaphors for life that lie just below the surface of the games we play. I use Beedy's work whether I am coaching youth or adult rowers. The results have been transformative both on and off the water.
Holly Metcalf Gold Medalist 1984 Olympics and Founder of Row As One
We learn in many ways--a truism, of course, and yet many of us, alas, forget the ironic confines of our educational background: the way we were persuaded that the acquisition of knowledge began and ended in the classroom, or on occasion, the reading room of a library. All the time, however, we are potential teachers of one another, and for our children especially, an athletic game can be an occasion for many lessons indeed--emotional and moral, and too, cognitive of factual. Those of us who were active during our high school and college years in a particular sport well remember those moments when something was said or done that lived long and hard in our memories: a gesture, a nod, an effort of one kind or another, a remark--and suddenly a new sense of things, an awareness of this or that, heretofore absent.
Dr. Robert Coles’s forward of Jeff Beedy's PLUS Book
“I am always amazed and gratified when Jeff Beedy publishes yet another work on how to use sport participation and competition to develop better kids – and to help the adults who teach and coach them. This latest work is as magnificent as the multitude of his previous endeavors. Jeff has been teaching this writer a hardened and too-often pessimistic youth sports “culture changer” for well over two decades; and I always learn plenty of new tools to try to help make American organized youth sports more child-centered. Jeff is a true beacon of valuable wisdom. If you’re going to invest any time in administrating, coaching and “sidelinewatching” children in sport, please read this book.”
Bob Bigelow, Youth Sports Activist, co-author of Just Let the Kids Play
“I have met many teachers, visited many schools, worked in many educational institutions, and I strongly believe that Jeff Beedy is the finest educator and administrator (and human being) I’ve met in two decades of teaching and doing educational observation research.”
Dr. Robert Coles Pulitzer Prize Winner and former Harvard University Professor
At times of a global economic recession- Jeff Beedy- a philosopher, a visionary humanist and a true educator, provides the framework, the guidelines, the rationale and the tools for a new global “investment”. An investment that can last over time and space. An investment on character development, civic engagement and human potential through the “New Science of Sport-based Teaching and Learning”. Jeff’s inspiring and refreshing work reminds us the importance and the need of investment in Human Capital through sport-based value oriented youth development in a very simple and applicable way. Jeff’s work and recommendations will last over time and space- since they blend the universality of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle’s pedagogy, philosophy and ontology- revive ancient Olympia’s values of holistic human development and civic engagement- merge this ontology with the theoretical foundations of the greatest moral and human development theorist of our days- and showcase how the theory of science of sport-based teaching and learning can become praxis. A great book and a great tool for all youth development “investors” (educators, policy makers, researchers and practitioners)-a clear roadmap and robust foundation for “sport”-for-development programming around the globe. Thank you Jeff for this great contribution!!!
Alexis Lyras, PhD, Sport-for-Development and Peace Georgetown University
Magic Bus www.magicbus.org
Women Win www.womenwin.org
Waves of Change www.wavesofchange.org
The Case for Physical Education becoming a Core Subject in the National Curriculum 2018