To foster social competence among youth through their involvement in sport, fitness, and educational activities.
History of NYSP

The Beginning

In 1968, representatives for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports piloted the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP) during the summer at two universities’ athletic facilities. On March 17, 1969, the White House announced that the federal government was committing $3 million to establish a sports program for economically disadvantaged youth, and NYSP was born. NYSP was lead by the National Youth Sports Program Fund (NYSP Fund, d.b.a. the National Youth Sports Corporation – NYSC), a non-profit organization established to administer NYSP nationwide. The NYSC received support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the NCAA.

From 1969 through 2006, the National Youth Sports Program served over two million youth around the country at over 200 colleges/universities. In 2005 alone, nearly 73,000 children and adolescents were enrolled in the program at 202 locations. Camp sites could be found in 46 states and the District of Columbia.

General Concept

NYSP was designed to provide children and adolescents with sport and education instruction in a safe and nurturing environment. Program structure:
4 weeks, 20 days
Participation is free
Youth participated in different sport and education activities
Two meals daily, transportation, and physical examination provided
Camp staffed by educators, administrators and students from the community and colleges/universities

Target Population

Children ages 9-16 who are economically disadvantaged (using U.S. Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines)

Historical Mission

Provide children with the right start.

Historical Program Objectives
Serve underserved youth between the ages of 9-16
Provide a healthy start through good nutrition and physical fitness
Teach youth-centered activities in a safe, positive and enjoyable college/university environment
Provide youth-centered activities that nurture the dreams and aspirations of youth
Promote respect, citizenship, and sportsmanship in a diverse society
Provide quality service and reward excellent performance

Federal Funding Cuts

In fiscal year 2006, all funding was cut from the federal budget to support this program, as Congress did not provide an appropriation for NYSP. In 2006 and 2007 residual funds were used to support a limited number of programs (in 2006 camp participation was cut to 20,676 youth at 74 institutions). After 2007, existing programs were responsible for securing funding for the camp. As a result, only about thirty institutions provided the program to youth in 2008.


Over the past 12 months, the Ohio State University’s (OSU) National Youth Sport Program (NYSP) has undergone a number of critical changes that will ultimately enhance the outcomes for Columbus youth. Specifically, the OSU Department of Athletics has developed a formal partnership with the OSU College of Social Work. When the Department of Athletics decided to provide funding for NYSP, one of the goals was to make NYSP a university-wide program. The strong partnership that has developed between the Department of Athletics and the OSU College of Social Work (CSW) has helped to achieve this end. Leaders from the Department of Athletics and CSW have worked to develop a new name, mission and vision for OSU’s NYSP. OSU’s NYSP is now called Learning in Fitness & Education (LiFE) Sports. This new name reflects the new broader mission of LiFE Sports:

“To foster social competence among youth through their involvement in sport, fitness, and education activities.”

The overarching theme of the program is to utilize sport as a vehicle to teach important life skills that can then be transferred to other contexts. The enhanced LiFE Sports program will provide economically disadvantaged youth from the greater Columbus area with the opportunity to participate in various sport activities and at the same time develop interpersonal skills such as communication, teamwork, and assertiveness, as well as personal skills such as decision making, problem solving and critical thinking.