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Parents, kids to rally for outdoor sports to return on Oahu

  • COURTESY MAUREEN MENCH
                                Parker and Stella Mench painted signs at their Kailua home to use at Wednesday’s rally.

    COURTESY MAUREEN MENCH

    Parker and Stella Mench painted signs at their Kailua home to use at Wednesday’s rally.

Parents, coaches and kids plan to wave signs outside City Hall Wednesday afternoon to spread the word about their campaign to get the mayor to allow outdoor sports to resume.

Their online petition, “Open up Outdoor Sports on Oahu!” had more than 3,700 signatures this afternoon.

“The purpose of the protest is to continue raising awareness with Mayor Caldwell and Governor Ige that outdoor sports are safe for everyone and essential for our keiki’s physical and mental health,” the petition reads.

It was started by Stacy Mashiba, a Kailua mother, whose 11-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son both play soccer.

“It’s the first time that I put a petition together,” she said in an interview. “The bottom line is I just want my kids to go back out there and play. These sports organizers are aware and they want to do everything they can to ensure the kids’ and the community’s health.”

Under the mayor’s reopening strategy, organized team sports are prohibited until the city reaches Tier 4, with a rolling average of fewer than 20 daily cases. Oahu is now in Tier 2 and the prospect of moving to a less restrictive level has dimmed with the seven-day rolling average at 71 daily cases as of last week.

In the current Tier 2, groups of up to five family members or friends are allowed to play outdoor sports, such as basketball, soccer or tennis at the park. That number would increase to 10 in Tier 3.

“We think this is far too restrictive for such a low-risk activity,” said Maureen Mench, a clinical psychologist in Kailua whose children want to get back to playing club soccer.

“It just seems like if we keep it at Tier Four, we could be talking months and months,” she said. “In the parks right now, no organized sports are allowed to even practice.”

“On the mainland, a lot of sports have been opened up, but even in games, parents have to watch from their cars,” she said. “We’ll take it because we want our kids to be able to play.”

Her son and daughter painted signs Monday to take to Wednesday’s rally, which runs from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Honolulu Hale.

Sergio Bolioli, president of the Major Island Soccer Organization, questioned why college sports such as University of Hawaii football are allowed, but not youth sports or adult leagues.

“It’s outdoors, with open air,” he said. “We’re not in a closed environment, the air is blowing, we are moving, we are doing exercise, we are doing healthy things.”

“Yes we all want this virus to go away, but we cannot stop living,” he added. “We have medical doctors that have said the risk of contagion from outdoor sports is way less than the benefits from it.”

The Centers for Disease Control’s “Considerations for Youth Sports,” updated online on Oct. 29, points out that the risk varies with the activity.

“The more people a child or coach interacts with, the closer the physical interaction, the more sharing of equipment there is by multiple players and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread,” it says.

The CDC lists five levels of risk, starting with the lowest, which is performing drills or conditioning at home alone or with family members. The second tier, labeled “increasing risk,” is team-based practice. The third level is within-team competition, followed by full competition between teams from the same local area. Full competition between teams from different geographic areas is considered the “highest risk.”

To find the petition, go online to change.org or 808ne.ws/sportsQ.

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