A Signature Partnership

Southern Methodist University          Andrews Institute Children's Health. Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.

SMU and Children’s Health through its Children’s Health Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine are launching a collaboration dedicated to leveraging the transformational power of sports to improve the health, activity levels and well-being of kids.

The Youth Sports Impact Partnership, a unique university-hospital relationship, will use an evidence-based approach to improve access to youth sports, prevent injury and share age-appropriate training and development practices.

Pervasive Problems in Youth Sports

Despite broad participation and interest, unaddressed issues limit the positive impact of youth sports in America:

  • Inequality Impacts Access. Access to organized youth sports is limited by family income. According to the 2020 Census, only 23.4 percent of children aged 6 to 11 living below the poverty line participate in sports.1

  • Inactivity is WidespreadThe CDC reports that fewer than 24 percent of children are physically active every day, leading to serious health problems like childhood obesity.2

  • Underinformed ParticipantsVolunteer coaches are the backbone of organized youth sports, but only 10 percent receive any kind of relevant training leading to youth injury and burnout, according to the National Alliance for Youth Sports.3

Addressing These Issues

In response, this collaboration will generate research in sports medicine and athletic development, which will be the basis of leadership training for coaches and continuing education for parents.

Long-range plans for the collaboration include the creation of an index to measure access to play in North Texas communities, development of a training and injury-prevention program for school and volunteer coaches and performance research on elite athletes to study best practices in training and coaching.

“This partnership will benefit the field of sports medicine and the entire youth sports sector by focusing on injury prevention and performance through a collaborative effort for sports medicine professionals and coaches across the industry,” says Dr. James Andrews, founder and director of the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, who is lending his expertise to the partnership.

Peter Weyand, Ph.D., who directs the Locomotor Performance Lab in SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development and is leading the partnership’s research efforts. "As a researcher, I have had the opportunity to observe the scientific benefits of exercise and activity," Weyand says. "I look forward to the opportunity to use science to inspire kids to be active, have fun and learn all at the same time."

Making Sports and Activity Accessible to All

Researchers also plan to create social impact programming designed to break down the barriers to sports and active play often more prevalent in underserved communities. Social impact initiatives will include providing low cost programs to increase play, educating athletics personnel on sports best practices, and combating misinformation and disinformation in the youth sports space.

"All of the partners in this program understand the importance of sports and play as key parts of a healthy childhood," says Children’s Health System of Texas Chief Operating Officer Pete Perialas Jr. "We will take a proactive approach to making participation in youth sports healthy and accessible to all North Texas children."

A Systemic Impact

Through the work of the partnership, we will strive to achieve the following outcomes.

  • Advance the knowledge of youth sports science and medicine.
  • Equip practitioners to better train athletes and prevent injuries.
  • Increase access to sports for youth in Dallas-Fort Worth (and beyond).
  • Improve the overall public health of communities.

According to Dean Stephanie L. Knight, SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development, "SMU’s Simmons School is dedicated to developing and understanding evidence-based best practices for childhood and human development. Our faculty members are internationally known for their strengths in the science of human performance, coaching and leadership, and STEM education. This partnership offers a new way for Simmons to impact the lives of children in a positive way."

The Road to Creating a Lasting Impact

To achieve the partnership’s desired outcomes, the partnership will pursue the following objectives.

  • Secure operational and programmatic funding.
  • Initiate research and social impact programming.
  • Secure a long-term partnership with a media company to combat misinformation and disinformation.
  • Create systemic programs to increase access to sports in DFW and beyond.
  • Secure a federal designation as a clearinghouse for youth sports research and best practices.
  • Build a world-class facility that will serve as an international hub for youth sports research.

Contact Us

To learn more about the Youth Sports Impact Partnership, please contact Greg Weatherford II, SMU’s Simmons School’s Director of Community Engagement & Special Projects, at smuchai@smu.edu or 214-768-1779.


1: 2020 Census
2: CDC
3: National Alliance for Youth Sports