Athletes are Children First Initiative for Gymnastics Clubs Nationwide

The NYSPCC and AAF Announce Funding Opportunity in New York State to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse in the Sport of Gymnastics

The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC) and the Athlete Assistance Fund (AAF) are excited to announce a funding opportunity as a part of the Children First Initiative to prevent child sexual abuse in the sport of gymnastics. This Request for Proposals invites Child Advocacy Centers and child welfare agencies in New York State to apply for funding for a pilot project to provide prevention education and support to gymnastics clubs. Participating agencies will receive free training and technical assistance from The NYSPCC on a child sexual abuse prevention curriculum. They will also be funded by AAF to implement the pilot project activities in their communities. By connecting local child protection experts with gymnastics clubs, this pilot project seeks to establish national best practices for education and prevention of child sexual abuse in the sport of gymnastics. The overall goal of the Children First Initiative is to eradicate child sexual abuse in gymnastics and position the sport to serve as a role model for all fields of sport.

For more information, please read the RFP here: Children First Initiative Pilot Project RFP

Background Info:

In 2019, The Athlete Assistance Fund (The AAF) partnered with The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (The NYSPCC) whereby the NYSPCC performed a full program needs assessment and provide sexual abuse prevention training workshops to athletes, coaches, and parents to ensure that teen and child athletes are equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to keep themselves safe.

The AAF was established to provide the financial means and guidance for athletes that have suffered sexual abuse in gymnastics to obtain counseling services and, following a rigorous partner and program evaluation, The AAF selected The NYSPCC to develop a multi-pronged approach to combating child sexual abuse in gymnastics. The agency conducted background research, site visits, information gathering sessions, and focus groups with key stakeholders, athletes, parents, coaches, and club owners to assess areas of need and identify gaps in child safety practices. Based on their findings, a series of prevention workshops will be established that teach athletes by age group, coaches and club owners, and parents and caregivers the skills they need to identify, report and prevent abuse. This child protection and safety partnership demonstrates The AAF’s mission to make gymnastics a safe sport in which children can thrive and succeed.

In addition to providing training, The NYSPCC is developing gymnastics accreditation standards to support The AAF in its efforts to ensure all affiliated gymnastics clubs and coaches nationwide adhere to the same best practice standards for child protection. These accreditation standards will outline required steps gymnastics clubs will need to take in order to be recognized and accredited for their adoption of child safety protocol. Gymnastics clubs will have the opportunity to achieve status at a bronze, silver, or gold level depending on practices implemented.

About The Athlete Assistance Fund

The Athlete Assistance Fund (AAF) is an independent, 501(c)3 not-for-profit that makes counseling services available to any current or former USA Gymnastics member gymnast who suffered sexual abuse within the sport of gymnastics. It confidentially connects athletes to skilled healthcare providers for appropriate treatment through an independent third-party organization. The AAF is not affiliated with USA Gymnastics. Read more about The AAF at