More opportunities for our kids to get involvedWith summer time quickly approaching, I know many of us are preparing to have our children back at home much more. I always look forward to the time with my boys shooting hoops, playing catch or going for a swim. My boys are still young and have a lot to learn, and I cherish the summer time for the opportunity to spend more time trying to teach them things like integrity, kindness and responsibility.
This past session, we were able to pass some legislation that will assist me in teaching my kids responsibility, allowing for more children to referee athletic games. The idea for this piece of legislation came from a boy in Newburg, 12-year-old Matthew Burkart. Matthew spearheaded this issue after completing all testing and licensing requirements to officiate soccer games, only to discover that he must wait until he is 14 in order to do so because of child labor laws.
The previous law only exempted children between the ages of 14 and 18 who worked as farm laborers, domestic service providers, golf caddies and newspaper carriers. The legislation that we passed, Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 153, lowers the age at which a child may work or be employed as a youth athletic program referee, umpire or official to 12 years old.
SEA 153 was supported by sporting organizations and coaches across Indiana. The bill is expected to positively impact hundreds of kids across the state by allowing them to become certified and be compensated for their work. The president of the Indiana State Soccer Association emphasized during his testimony the constant need for experienced referees in Indiana’s growing soccer culture.
Thanks to all of Matthew’s hard work, more Hoosier kids can be employed as a youth athletic program referees, umpires or officials. For safety, the law does require that the child be supervised by a parent or guardian while acting as a referee, umpire or official at an athletic event.
This new law will allow younger children interested in a sport the ability to officiate, teaching them valuable ethics and principles. It is great to pass legislation that will encourage more kids to be active in their local athletic programs as participants and as role models for their younger peers.
If you have an idea of how we can better Indiana, I would love to hear it. No matter if you are 9 or 90 your idea is valuable and could potentially benefit Hoosiers across our state.
I hope you all enjoy upcoming summer months with your friends and family. Find new ways to get involved in our community and meet new people. To all of you kids, make sure to stay safe while having fun, I know your parents want you to have a great and memorable summer.