Written by Alyssa Wilson, University of Lynchburg Bonner Intern
When children are involved in group activities like soccer, basketball and tennis, their physical skills can increase, they help keep children healthy and active and even help their socialization. However, for many families it is expensive and hard to introduce their children to team sports.
The Lynchburg Area Youth Sports Initiative (LAYSi) is on a mission to bring sports to the young people of the Greater Lynchburg area at little or no cost to families.
LAYSi started over three years ago after University of Lynchburg soccer coach Todd Olsen became interested in sharing his sports knowledge with the community. From this vision, groups of people from different organizations across the city came together to make LAYSi happen.
“LAYSi uses sports to get the attention of our youth. And once we have their attention, we are better able to teach them life lessons that will make them healthier students, better prepared employees, and more confident adults,” says Nat Marshall, coordinator of the group.
The organization has three exciting, major events coming up in the next month that will be fun for all families.
On Saturday, Feb. 10 LAYSi is partnering with the Downtown YMCA to host a winter play day where children will have the opportunity to play indoor tennis, basketball and even shake out some energy with a Zumba dance party.
In past years, winter play day has featured swimming and swimming lessons as well, as LAYSi believes that the ability to swim on young children has a tremendous impact on their life and future safety.
However, the YMCA has recently been experiencing complications with their pool and swimming will not be available on winter play day, however children will receive a pass to be able to come and learn or practice swimming at another date.
Children ages 5 to 14 are welcome to come to the event hosted from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.. Snacks will be provided to any children who are present.
In-person registration will be available starting at 12:30 p.m., but pre-registration is strongly recommended.
Families who are interested in this day of play can learn more by visiting here.
LAYSi will be bringing together community members to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and local community leaders with their annual Unity Walk on Feb. 17.
The block party-style celebration and walk will begin and end at 5th and Federal Streets. The event will kick off at 10:45 a.m. with music, registration, activity stations, giveaways, and special guests followed by the Unity Walk at 11 a.m.
The free community event is sponsored by the Lynchburg City Schools Education Foundation, Freedom First Credit Union, the City of Lynchburg, and the Bank of the James.
What to expect:
• Interactive activity stations for all ages
• Raffle prizes
• Free refreshments
• Guest speakers
• Meet and greet with local leaders
• Unity Walk
• and more!
Local organizations and businesses are invited to share their enthusiasm for a united community by being a booth sponsor. Those interested in sponsoring a booth can register on the LAYSi website.
Media inquiries should be directed to Nat Marshall at email@example.com.
No registration is necessary, however community organizations can sign up to host a table at the event for $30.
In the past the event has seen between 250 to 300 participants, and this year that number is expected to grow.
To learn more about the 2024 Annual Unity Walk, visit here.
Competition can be fun and necessary for young athletes who are looking to improve their skill, however travel sports that provide this opportunity are often inaccessible for most families.
On Saturday, March 16 LAYSi will host a two-day basketball tournament at the University of Lynchburg where teams from across Virginia and beyond will come together for fun, positive competition.
University of Lynchburg coaches will be present and provide seminars and teachings to participants throughout the event.
Costs to register a team to compete can be found on the organization’s SHARE Greater Lynchburg profile here.
To see Nat Marshall interviewed on The Mike Show, click here.