Today marks the launch of The Center For Healing & Justice Through Sport (CHJS), a national organization offering practical solutions and resources for coaches and sports programs based on scientific, trauma-informed research, and prioritizing a therapeutic impact for children experiencing trauma. A slate of events throughout the week featuring Ibtihaj Muhammad, Angela Hucles, Angela Ruggiero, Blake Leeper and Muggsy Bogues, renowned neuroscientist Bruce D. Perry, MD, PhD and CHJS co-founder, coach and sport for good advocate Megan Bartlett, will introduce the organization’s goals and mission.
Backed by neuroscience research showing sport has both a physiological and psychological healing effect, CHJS brings trauma-informed coaching to youth through training, consulting, and movement building. Through a grassroots-led community of sports experts, psychologists, scientists and strategists, CHJS equips coaches with simple, practical skills and knowledge about the brain which are scientifically proven to have a therapeutic impact on athletes, students, and participants far beyond traditional therapy.
“Sport is naturally structured to provide relational dosing that is much more therapeutically sensitive than traditional therapy,” says Dr. Perry, Senior Fellow of The Child Trauma Academy and bestselling author with Oprah Winfrey of What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing whose work has helped inform the CHJS model. “If we make coaches 5% more trauma informed, or developmentally sensitive, we will have more therapeutic impact on children than if we trained an entire new cohort of trauma therapists.”
Childhood trauma is a pervasive public health issue in the United States – 62% of children living in poverty have experienced one or more traumatic events. This can have significant lifelong impacts. Using innovations from emerging brain research, CHJS is elevating the importance of intentionality and compassion in youth sports by providing training and research-backed solutions to sports organizations on the front lines.
“We know that physical activity is good for the brain, the body, and mental health,” says Bartlett, co-founder of CHJS and author of A Kids Book About Trauma. “In fact, for many young people who have experienced trauma, being active on a sports team may be the only time their bodies feel good. This is why it is essential for coaches to understand the impact of trauma in order for them to effectively develop the social, emotional, and cognitive skills of the young people they serve.”
Leveraging the success and foundational work of We Coach, an organization dedicated to social impact through sport founded by Bartlett, CHJS will continue to build on the previous organization’s years of experience, research in healing-centered sport and, most importantly, compassion. Harnessing data-driven insights in neuroscience and the inherent nature of sport, the newly structured nonprofit organization is committed to changing people’s relationship to their trauma and contributing to a healthier and more just society – one trained coach to one young person at a time.
Nike, formerly a partner of We Coach and now founding partner of CHJS, also believes in the transformative power of sport to heal and help youth reach their potential. As a company founded by a coach and an athlete, Nike has a unique understanding of the critical value of coaching, and is committed to creating active and inclusive communities by recruiting, training and celebrating inclusive youth coaches – a vision that aligns with the mission of CHJS.
“For kids, play is innate – and when kids get the movement, sport and physical activity they need, they’rehealthier, happier and more successful in school and life,” said Matthew Geschke, Nike Senior Director of North America Social & Community Impact. “And a caring, trained coach can be the ultimate game-changer. Through our partnership with the Center for Healing and Justice Through Sport, we’re funding a solution to train coaches so they can help all youth who are experiencing trauma to begin to heal through sport. Our investment will train both our Nike Community Ambassadors and Made to Play nonprofit partners, which prioritize kids from communities that have been marginalized, and also help to build a movement to train staff and coaches from more schools, nonprofits and youth sports organizations across North America.”
CHJS launch week includes a kick-off reception, the announcement of the CHJS COVID relief training program in partnership with Laureus USA, introduction of Bartlett’s A Kids Book About Trauma with conversations among youth and their families, a nationwide virtual tour to launch the Agenda To Transform Youth Sports, and a conversation with athletes and coaches about sports on the frontline of post-pandemic healing.