FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- It can be difficult for children to break into sports at a young age, but one program is helping to open doors for some by providing an easy way to get started.

The Start Smart Sports Development program and Fort Rucker Youth Sports is making it easy for children to get involved in sports by providing a way for parents to help with the development process, and that's just what they did during one session at the Fort Rucker Youth Center Nov. 16 where parents and children took on the fundamentals of basketball.

Throughout the night, parents were involved in helping to teach their children the basics of the sport, such as dribbling and shooting, with a little help from Randy Tolison, Fort Rucker Youth Sports director, and Sani Williams, assistant youth sports director, who both decided to bring the program to the youth center to get children interested in sports.

"I think the program is great, and even more so because it gets parents involved," said W01 Rob Cedar, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment. "I think a lot of times parents tend to use sports as a way to babysit their kids, but it's really important for them to be involved in it because I think the children need that support from them, and that's what I'm here to do.

"It's even better to be able to teach them with other parents and children around, too, because it gets them more interested in the activities," he continued. "Basketball is a team sport and they should start learning it as a team, so I think this is a great program."

It's that understanding of teamwork that makes the program so important, according to Williams, who said the program is a great way to help integrate children from individual play to team play.

"When children are just thrust into sports, it's not always the best way to get them to develop those skills," she said. "This allows parents to work with their own child and give them a chance to spend a little more time with them while teaching them."

Williams said the program is beneficial to children because it provides them with the groundwork for the sport that they're interested in, and having the parents involved gives the program the added benefit of interaction between family members.

"Usually with organized sports, it's a coach who interacts with the children, but with this program the parents get to be actively involved, and I think that's a fun thing for both," she said. "With these skills, it will help the children to transition into the organized sport, which they will be able to do when they become of age."

So far, the program has been available for soccer, football and basketball, but Tolison and Williams said T-ball signups will begin in spring, and the program has the potential to add other sports later, like tennis.

"For now we're just starting with our regular season sports, but there is potential to add other sports to the program … depending on how the program is received," said the assistant director.

Parents interested in signing up children for the program must visit parent central services and make sure to register their child with child, youth and school services. All children must have a current sports physical.

For more information, call 255-2257 or 255-2254.