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NCAA partnership strives to reduce concussions in youth football

As part of its ongoing efforts to promote education on important safety issues and to prevent injuries, the NCAA has partnered with 11 other sports leagues, safety organizations and equipment manufacturers in a program designed to help reduce the occurrence of concussion in youth football.

The partnership, members of which cross a wide spectrum from the NFL and NFLPA to USA Football and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, addresses concussion prevention through a combination of equipment donations and safety education. Those goals align with the NCAA’s current efforts to improve concussion prevention and response with its member schools.

“This program supports our ongoing efforts on football safety and preventing injury through education, sport skill development and equipment maintenance,” said David Klossner, NCAA Director of Health and Safety. “We believe this multi-organizational partnership will make a positive impact on the children playing in youth football leagues around the country.”

One part of the effort will create a helmet replacement program for youths in underserved communities. When the pilot program launches in July in the California Bay area, the Gulf Coast region, Northern Ohio and the tri-state region around New York City, helmets that are 10 years old or older will be replaced with new helmets at no cost. The partners have committed approximately $1 million to those areas in the first year.

But because helmets can’t prevent concussions, the program will also include an educational initiative aimed at reducing hits to the head and trauma to the brain. The campaign’s information will focus on concussion awareness and response, proper helmet fitting and fundamental football instruction using USA Football’s best-practice models. In addition, leagues that receive helmets from the program will be required to have their coaches complete USA Football’s Level 1 coaching course.

The program’s partners expect to provide nearly 13,000 new helmets to youth football players in low-income communities in 2012 while their coaches are instructed with the latest safety and prevention information. The program is also expected to provide valuable information about the state of youth football helmets, including the number of helmets in use for 10 or more years.

The program’s partners include: NFL, NFL Players Association, USA Football, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association (NAERA), NCAA, National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), Rawlings, Riddell, Schutt, and Xenith is supported by U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission.

To learn more about the program, visit USA Football’s site for information on safety, helmet fitting and care, or to apply for the program.