MomsTEAM Institute, Inc. (“MTI”) is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Concord, Massachusetts.
Led by its founding Executive Director, Brooke de Lench, working with a Board of Directors, and supported by a stellar Board of Advisors, MTI has been providing objective, well-researched, sports health and safety information and advice to sports parents, athletes, coaches, administrators, physicians and allied healthcare providers for eighteen years, during which time it has earned a reputation as a visionary leader in youth sports health and safety education and for its work in the trenches to make sports safer, one program at a time.
As an independent non-profit, MTI’s mission has always been to represent every group with a stake in making sports safer for youth, teens and young adults, not those of any particular special interest or trade organization, and to advocate for athletes, their parents, coaches, and healthcare providers.
WHAT WE DO
For the past eighteen years, MTI has worked with all sports stakeholders to safeguard the health and safety of student-athletes through education and advocacy:
- LEGACY WEBSITE
Since its launch in August 2000, MomsTEAM.com has grown to include over 10,000 pages of high quality, well-researched content on youth sports health and safety and parenting. MTI’s long-term plan is to migrate the best of MomsTEAM content to a series of microsites to be launched under the SmartTeams™ banner, each focusing on a different aspect of sports health and safety, aggregating comprehensive, evidence-based sports health and safety best practice standards and benchmarks, and incorporating the International Safeguards for Children in Sports to help guide sports programs towards a safer sports experience for their athletes.
- DOCUMENTARIES AND VIDEOS
Since August 2013, PBS stations across the country have been airing The Smartest Team: Making High School Football Safer, an hour-long documentary, independently produced by MomsTEAM, which shows how a high school football program in rural Oklahoma, by implementing our evidence-based Six Pillar™ head injury risk management program, was able to make the game safer.
The MomsTEAM.com, MomsTEAM Institute, and SmartTeams – Smart Teams Play Safe™ Head Injury Safety Center websites collectively feature hundreds of short and full-length videos by youth sports experts on a wide variety of subjects, from concussions to nutrition, from hydration to resistance training.
- SPORTS SAFETY SUMMITS
In September 2014, the Institute held its inaugural sports safety summit, “Smart Teams Play Safe: Protecting the Health and Safety of the Whole Child in Youth Sports” at Harvard Medical School. A stellar roster of national experts gave 15-minute “TED-talk”-style presentations on how to improve youth sports safety by adopting best practices. The presentations were videotaped and became a series of SmartTeams™ Talks. The summit was widely hailed by attendees as the best of its kind.
For a number of years MomsTEAM has been working with youth football programs around the country developing, testing, and implementing a comprehensive set health and safety best practice checklists for young athletes under a program called SmartTeams.
When launched nationally SmartTeams will be the first national program to (1) aggregate and disseminate comprehensive, evidence- and consensus-based sports health and safety best practice standards; (2) provide sports programs with a way, through voluntary self-audit, to engage in safety benchmarking; (3) award SmartTeams certification to those programs which have implemented best practices; and (3) incorporate the International Safeguards for Children in Sports (which MTI, as part of 40-member global coalition of sports organizations – and one of only two U.S.-based NGOs, helped create).
MTI and its founding Executive Director, Brooke de Lench, have consistently demonstrated visionary leadership on a wide range of sports safety issues, including:
— Concussions and repetitive head impacts: A leading authority on head injuries in sports, Boston University neurosurgeon and Concussion Legacy Institute co-founder Dr. Robert Cantu (who was MomsTEAM’s concussion expert from 2001 until 2007), considers the MomsTEAM Concussion Safety Center, launched in 2001, to be the “pioneer in concussion education.” MTI began calling for the creation of a safe concussion reporting environment for athletes as early as 2004, a full ten years before emerging research suggested that creating a climate in which athletes feel comfortable in reporting symptoms was more likely to increase reporting rates than concussion education alone.
— Importance of certified athletic trainers: MTI has been in the vanguard of efforts to put ATs on the sidelines at sports practices and games at every high school in the country.
— Cardiac safety: MTI was the first independent sports safety organization to advocate for widespread deployment of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) at every sports practice and game, and has donated countless AEDs to programs that could not otherwise afford them.
— Overuse injuries: MTI has advocated tirelessly against the dangers of early sports specialization and year-round play, which have contributed to an epidemic of overuse injuries in team and individual sports. Brooke de Lench first sounded the alarm about the the dangers of early single-sport specialization in her groundbreaking 2006 book, Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports, years before the consensus emerged among leading medical, health groups and think tanks that early sports specialization and overuse/overload among youth athletes should be strongly discouraged.
— Hydration and heat illnesses: MTI has been educating parents for sixteen years about exertional heat illnesses (EHI) and exertional heat stroke (EHS), about the need for youth athletes to drink fluids before, during, and after sports, for pre-season acclimatization in football, and to modify or cancel practices in high heat and humidity. In 2009,
— Emergency Action Plans: MTI has emphasized the importance of EAPs in sports safety for many years.
— Safety training: We have long emphasized the need for youth sports coaches to be trained in first aid, CPR, and the use of an AED. An important component of the SmartTeams™ program piloted by the Grand Prairie, TX cheer and youth football program for 2,500 athletes, and coaches, and parents in the fall of 2015, and for programs in six states in 2014 was the training by the local chapter of the Red Cross of parent volunteers to be first responders.
— Emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse prevention: MTI has been educating parents and coaches for years about the dangers of abuse in sports and about ways such abuse can be prevented, such as through background checks and a rule prohibiting a coach from ever being alone with a child athlete.
— Importance of comprehensive pre-participation physical evaluations (PPE): MTI has advocated for many years for the use of a comprehensive PPE, including the taking of a complete family cardiac history and history of concussions.
MTI has gained a reputation over the last 18 years as a leader in youth sports health and safety education, widely respected by parents, coaches, and health care professionals, many of whom rely on our reporting on peer-reviewed research to stay abreast of the constantly evolving science of sports medicine.
That MTI is the trusted source for sports safety information is reflected by:
- The selection of MomsTEAM.com as one of the top websites of its kind by Good Housekeeping magazine;
- Its inclusion as 1 of only 40 “pioneer organizations” (and one of only two U.S.-based NGO’s) in the global coalition invited to participate in the development and implementation of the International Safeguards for Children in Sport;
- Its selection as 1 of only 6 winners of the NCAA-Department of Defense “Mind Matters” Educational Challenge grant which it has used to develop the SmartTeams Head Injury Safety Center and an educational intervention designed to improve reporting of concussion symptoms by student-athletes by creating a safe concussion reporting environment.
- The conferring on Senior Editor Lindsey Barton Straus by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in May 2016 of its prestigious MORE (Media Orthopaedic Reporting Excellence) award.
- Sony Pictures’ selection of the Institute as its charity of choice for its 2015 movie, “Concussion.”