Making Sports a Positive –not Bullying– Experience for Kids @Up2UsSports

up2usorgNEW YORK CITY— (November 20, 2013) Up2Us (, a national not-for-profit organization leading the movement to promote sports as the solution to the critical challenges facing America’s youth announced a partnership with the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation ( The StandUp Foundation awarded Up2Us with a grant to develop Making Sports A Safe Place, a co-branded bullying-prevention program, which will be piloted in early 2014. The grant will enable Up2Us to develop the Safe Space Toolkit, a set of proven strategies and activities to help coaches address bullying issues as well as provide LGBT-sensitive training.

According to recent studies, bullying affects nearly one in three American schoolchildren in grades six through twelve. Despite the potential of sports programs to increase the social support among youth, many experience sports as a further isolating negative interaction.  Research shows that a significant amount of bullying takes place in sports changing rooms before and after practice.  Such experiences have the power to negate positive aspects of sports participation and indelibly harm victims of bullying.  Up2Us and the StandUp Foundation are committed to addressing these conditions by providing coaches with the training and the tools they need to help create a safe and inclusive environment for all youth who play sports.

Up2Us will incorporate the Safe Space Toolkit in its national Coach Across America (CAA) program, where every year young men and women volunteer to serve as coach-mentors to youth in underserved communities. Up2Us’ practical, evidence-based approach to developing the Safe Space Toolkit will integrate the lessons learned from training thousands of coaches to prioritize youth development and inclusion as well as draw on the best practices of its network of more than 700 sports-based youth development organizations.

“Coaches are a powerful untapped resource when it comes to preventing bullying,” commented Megan Bartlett director at the Up2Us Center, which will be leading the efforts in developing the Safe Space Toolkit. “With the right tools and training coaches can instill inclusive values, help kids build positive relationships with their team and create a culture where all kids are valued and feel a sense of belonging.”  .

Making Sports A Safe Space will include:

  • Co-branded Safe Space Toolkit – Creating a physically and emotionally safe space for youth is one of the primary responsibilities of a sport-based youth development coach. The Safe Space Toolkit will provide coaches with a set of strategies and activities to help them create an open and accepting team culture for all youth, prevent bullying by fostering positive peer relationships and develop meaningful relationships with all youth regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation
  • Pilot Trainings Using Safe Space Toolkit – Up2Us will deliver 2 pilot trainings for members of the Coach Across America program as part of their 4-day national training institutes in New York and Los Angeles in January of 2014
  • Evaluation – Up2Us and StandUp will conduct evaluation of the toolkit, the trainings and the impact of this project on creating sustainable change in youth sports

Billy Bean, former major league baseball player and Vice Chairman of the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, will be involved in the launch of the pilot trainings. He commented, “My dream is to help end this social epidemic called bullying that so many kids are subjected to each and every day in locker rooms and on playing fields.” He added, “I believe we are nearing that moment in time when athletes lead the way as role models for fairness once again. I am thrilled that StandUp is funding the important work Up2Us is doing to help make that dream a reality.”

To learn more about Up2Us’ Coach Across America program

About Up2Us

Up2UsEstablished in 2009, Up2Us ( is leading a national movement to advance sports as a solution to the critical challenges facing today’s youth, including childhood obesity, academic failure and youth violence. Up2Us accomplishes its mission by uniting more than 700 sports programs that provide life skills development to this nation’s most vulnerable youth. In 2010, Up2Us launched Coach Across America (CAA) to provide its member organizations with well-trained, highly effective coaches. CAA is the first national program that challenges young adults to give back to their communities through a year of service as coach-mentors. This year, CAA is placing more than 400 coach-mentors nationwide, reaching 50,000 children. Up2Us is supported by Mercedes-Benz USA, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA, Nike Inc., the Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Justice.

About The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, Inc.

The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation is the world’s first anti-bullying foundation. It was founded in 2011 by rugby World Cup champion Ben Cohen, MBE. The Foundation’s mission is to raise awareness of the long-term, damaging effects of bullying and to raise funds to support those doing real-world work to stop it. The Foundation is funded, in part, through a social-commercial business model that unlocks profits to fuel donations. Learn more at

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