Recreation Department gets new equipment, implements concussion training

By Melissa Rollins, Editor,

The Darlington Recreation Department is taking proactive steps to make sure that children playing football and flag football are safe while still enjoying the game. New equipment as well as parent information meetings will ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Darlington County Parks and Recreation Department athletics director Brantley Jett said that the department will be implementing the use of new equipment, in more than one way.

“We have new helmets and then we also have the new soft shell helmets for flag,” Jett said. “We are probably one of the first in the state to implement the soft shells for flag football. We were thinking about how we can improve because we were in a place where flag was getting bigger. Last year, we didn’t have enough helmets so we were trying to come up with something.”

Jett said that when someone approached recreation department staff about the soft shells they decided to look into them.
“Someone came to us and was telling us about it, so me and Lee did some research,” Jett said. “We wanted to find a way to make the kids safe without putting them in real helmets because they are five and it is kind of heavy for them with all of the equipment.”

Jett said that with rising costs, other football programs are also looking at ways to safe money without jeopardizing the safety of their students.

“A lot of high schools and 7-on-7 are going to it so we looked into it and it was feasible for us to go that route,” Jett said. “It is a little cheaper than a regular helmet and it is more lightweight for the kids who are going to play flag. They don’t tackle and this is a way to still keep them safe.”
Another way to keep kids safe is making sure that parents and coaches know the signs of a concussion.
“Each of the new helmets has a thing on the back that parents can scan to get concussion information,” Jett said. “I also implemented that all of my coaches would be certified through the CDC and Heads Up to spot concussions. They will take a test on concussions and then the CDC also has a website that will be free for the coaches to go on.”

Parental involvement will also be key.

“This year, for the first time, we are going to have mandatory parent meetings before a child can play and we are going to talk about concussions, conduct and things like that so parents can be more aware of what is going on,” Jett said. “We want them to be aware of the symptoms too because sometimes a child will say that they have a headache but they won’t say that until they get home.”

Each child who participates will be fitted for their helmet, ensuring they have a proper fit.
Football and cheerleading are currently holding registration at the Darlington Recreation Department, 300 Sanders St. The deadline is August 11. The programs are for children 5 to 12-years-old on or before September 1. Participants must bring a birth certificate to sign-up. The cost is $30. For more information, call 843-393-4030

Author: mrollins

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