Children’s Mercy and Sporting Kansas City announce youth health and pediatric sports medicine initiative

Children’s Mercy Kansas City and Sporting Kansas City today launched a long-term partnership to promote health and fitness among Kansas City-area school children and provide specialized sports medicine to a youth athlete market that has experienced a substantial increase in sports-related injuries.

“It’s not every day that an opportunity like this comes along, to partner with an organization like Sporting Kansas City whose passion and commitment to improving the health of our region’s youth is beyond question,” said Randall O’Donnell, PhD, President and CEO of Children’s Mercy. “We’ve maintained that same commitment for 118 years and look forward to partnering with the Sporting Kansas City network to further our mission.”

“Partnering with Children’s Mercy to impact youth health and fitness aligns perfectly with our mission at Sporting Kansas City,” said Cliff Illig, principal owner of Sporting KC along with fellow Cerner cofounder Neal Patterson.  “Neal and I have worked with health care organizations all over the world, and we have the deepest respect for the world-class vision, values, leadership and capabilities Children’s Mercy brings to pediatric clinical care, research and education in Kansas City.  Healthier kids lead to healthier communities, and we’re thrilled that the stadium will bear the Children’s Mercy name as we work together to prevent pediatric sports injuries.”    

The 10-year partnership, which will kick off with Sporting Kansas City’s 2016 training camp/preseason, focuses on three components:

Improving access to pediatric-trained sports medicine

  • Children’s Mercy will open a state-of-the-art Children’s Mercy Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center at the National Training Center, which will break ground in Kansas City, Kansas, in spring 2016. The facility will serve Sporting KC Academy players and offer a full range of sports medicine services, resources and programming for youth athletes from all types of sports, not just soccer. More than 2 million high-school athletes and 3.5 million children under age 14 are injured each year in the U.S. playing sports. Today, only a small percentage (21 percent in the KC market) are treated by pediatric-trained sports medicine specialists who truly understand the youth’s growing body, developing brain and unique psychosocial stressors.

Strengthening community

  • The partnership will enhance Sporting Kansas City’s Victory Project, which helps area children – especially those with cancer – obtain the support and resources they need to survive and thrive.
  • It will develop and promote Sporting Moves, a grassroots outreach program that educates and inspires elementary kids on the importance of physical activity in an effort to combat childhood obesity.
  • It will build on Sporting KC players’ current commitment to engage with, encourage and inspire Children’s Mercy patients throughout the year.

Protecting youth athletes and educating parents and coaches

  • The partnership will develop soccer-specific curriculum (nutrition, injury prevention, rehabilitation, advanced cardiovascular training, etc.) for the Sporting Club Network, which includes approximately 200,000 players, parents, coaches, managers and administrators, including those with the Sporting KC Academy.
  • It will provide sports training, rehabilitation and conditioning programs for Sporting KC Academy teams at Swope Soccer Village, Sporting KC’s official training facility that hosts year-round marquee youth tournaments and enjoys 525,000-plus visitors annually.

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“We’re thrilled this partnership will extend our reach to ensure that education, training and access to pediatric-trained sports medicine specialists are available to youth and adolescent athletes, their parents and coaches,” said Kevin Latz, MD, Director of Children’s Mercy Center for Sports Medicine. “Our new Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center at the National Training Center will serve all youth, not just soccer players. Whether their passion is soccer, baseball, badminton or ballet, we will have the pediatric sports medicine, pediatric orthopedics, and pediatric rehabilitation experts on hand to help them reach their full potential.”

As part of the partnership, Children’s Mercy will have exclusive naming rights to Children’s Mercy Park (currently Sporting Park), as well as Sporting KC’s training center and the championship field at Swope Soccer Village. In addition, Children’s Mercy will become the official healthcare and sports medicine partner of the National Training Center, which will break ground in Kansas City, Kan., in the spring of 2016.

“The education of athletes, coaches and parents through training and curriculum has always been an extremely important topic for me. There is a great need for not only facilities, but also programming around this in the community,” said Peter Vermes, Manager of Sporting Kansas City.  “Partnering with Children’s Mercy and working together to serve the youth in this capacity will no doubt decrease injuries in all sports.”

About Children’s Mercy

Children’s Mercy, located in Kansas City, Mo., is one of the nation’s top pediatric medical centers. The 354-bed, not-for-profit hospital, provides care for children from birth through the age of 21, and is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of “America's Best Children's Hospitals.” For the third time in a row, Children’s Mercy has achieved Magnet nursing designation, awarded to fewer than seven percent of all hospitals nationally, for excellence in quality care. Its faculty of more than 700 pediatric subspecialists and researchers across more than 40 subspecialties are actively involved in clinical care, pediatric research, and educating the next generation of pediatric subspecialists. For more than a century, Children’s Mercy has provided the highest level of medical care to every child who passes through its doors, made possible through generous community support. For more information about Children’s Mercy and its research, visit childrensmercy.org. For breaking news and videos, follow on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

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