We’re sure many of you have been following the news coverage on the scandals within USA Gymnastics. It’s unfortunate that the amazing accomplishments of Team USA at the World Championships last week has once again been tainted by another scandal within USAG. As parents, we’re sure that you’re asking yourselves, should I continue to sign my child up for gymnastics? Is it possible to be enrolled in a program that provides rigorous training, yet cares about the well-being of my child? The answer is simple, yes, it is possible. As a USAG member club we are disappointed with USAG’s leadership and the culture they have created, and are frustrated with being part of an organization that is so disconnected from our core values. While it isn’t possible to withdraw our membership from USAG, we are vocal about our concerns and have come up with ways to enact real change within our gym, and hopefully other gyms. In October, USAG asked for feedback from member clubs. We are currently working on a response that outlines our concerns and points of action. Once this letter is complete we will publish it on our website, social media, and e-mail it directly to you. Why have we decided to remain a USAG member club? 1. Although there isn’t enough oversight, USAG is the only gymnastics organization that certifies coaches, conducts background checks, and keeps track of coaches that have been “banned” from coaching the sport. 2. Leaving USAG would prevent our competitive athletes from being able to compete in USAG sanctioned meets and limit their ability to progress in the sport. 3. We have more leverage to demand change if we remain members in good standing. Gymnastics is a sport that enables our athletes to become well-rounded individuals, but for far too long, the adults in this industry have gotten caught up in the need to win, and lost focus on protecting our athletes at all costs. The problems within USAG are far reaching and systemic. It is going to be a long uphill battle to see real change, but we are committed to enacting that change however we can. Safety in our gym: LIC Kids Gymnastics is committed to the safety of your children. We believe that the best way to protect and nurture your child is to have a staff that is well-educated and informed. That’s why our staff must: · Undergo rigorous background checks through USAG, ADP, and the NYS Sex Offender Registry · Complete the following trainings/certifications: Mandated Reporter, SafeSport, Heads Up Concussion, Darkness to Light (Abuse Prevention), Positive Coaching Alliance, First Aid/CPR/AED, physical exams/TB tests · Adhere to specific Standards of Behavior where athletes are to be supervised at all times, staff may never be alone with a child, and all interactions with a child must be interruptible What can I do as a parent? · SafeSport, an organization dedicated to keeping children safe from abuse as they participate in youth sports, has great online resources. We highly recommend their free online class “Parent’s Guide to Misconduct in Sports”. In addition, they have a “Parent Guide to SafeSport”, which has great talking tips and age appropriate content on what parents need to know about abuse. · Ask questions to the youth-serving organizations your children are enrolled in: a. How are the staff and volunteers selected? b. Are background checks mandatory for all staff? c. Are staff trained in abuse prevention and response? What is the policy for reporting abuse? d. What policies are in place to prevent child sexual abuse? e. What is the policy for one-on-one time between adults and children? · Remember, all summer camp, after-school programs, and daycares in NYC must have a permit from NY State and the City of New York’s Department of Health to operate their programs. Their permit should be on display, but if it isn’t ask to see it! Don’t ever assume that because a place is well kept or has a huge social media presence that they have completed the steps to ensure your child’s safety. Organizations that are committed to the safety of your child will be happy to provide you with this information. During the summer (July and August), when our summer camp is in operation, we post our summer camp permit next to our front desk. It is also available to review upon request during the school year (September- June). Click on the subjects below for more information about the requirements forSummer Camp, Afterschool Care and Child Care. We invite you to share your thoughts about USAG directly with them. They can be contacted at 1-800-345-4719, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on their Twitter account @USAGym. You’re also welcome to send your thoughts to us and we will include them in our letter to USAG. We appreciate you taking the time to read about our policies. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns. As always, we are so grateful for your continued support as our little gym tries to make gymnastics accessible to all.
Sincerely, Morgan Lennon and Natalie Fuertes