INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 24, 2018 – USA Gymnastics has named child advocate Shelba Waldron as its director of safe sport education and training. Waldron will be responsible for developing and implementing all aspects of USA Gymnastics’ safe sport educational programs and training services. She will begin her new position next month and will be based in Indianapolis.
“Shelba brings a wealth of experience to this position,” said USA Gymnastics Board Member and Safe Sport Committee Chair Julie Springwater, an adjunct associate professor and chair of macro practice at Boston University’s School of Social Work. “Her expertise will be critical to developing effective safe-sport educational and training programs for USA Gymnastics. Shelba will also be working closely with the Safe Sport Committee and others in the gymnastics community on educational initiatives. She will be instrumental in our efforts to create a culture and environment where members feel comfortable speaking up and are fully trained in effective safe sport practices.”
Waldron has worked extensively with youth development agencies to create safer environments for children. She has developed educational materials and safety training programs for children, young adults, parents, coaches, teachers, social workers, youth workers, mentors and administrators. Her training sessions cover a number of topics, including:
- Recognizing the signs of sexual abuse, bullying and other forms of abuse and misconduct.
- Maintaining appropriate boundaries with minors, while serving as a coach, mentor and teacher.
- Teaching the importance of line-of-sight, appropriate adult-to-youth interactions, proper reporting procedures, how to respond to a report or suspicion of various types of abuse.
- Understanding the trauma of abuse and how to support the survivor.
"I have spent my career working with youth, parents, coaches, and teachers,” said Waldron, who most recently served as a director with Nashville After Zone Alliance, a nationally recognized afterschool program that provides academic support and new creative outlets for middle school students (grades five to eight) at safe and convenient locations throughout Nashville. “I am looking forward to working together with everyone involved in USA Gymnastics to build a positive, encouraging and safe atmosphere for our sport.
“My first task will be to spend time listening and getting to know the USA Gymnastics community – the athletes, club owners, coaches, parents, judges and administrators from around the country – so I can develop a safe-sport educational and training program that works for the community as a whole,” continued Waldron, who also trained teachers, youth workers, administrators, coaches and therapists on issues related to bullying, sexual abuse, youth development, parental engagement and gender-specific training at the Juvenile Welfare Board in Clearwater, Fla.
Waldron earned a Master of Science in criminal justice from Florida Metropolitan University and a Bachelor of Science in therapeutic recreation at Middle State University. She also served in the U.S. Navy Reserve for six years. Waldron was a featured speaker at the National Bullying Conference on multiple occasions.
In 2017, USA Gymnastics adopted the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy – replacing the previous Participant Welfare Policy – that outlines the scope of the organization’s commitment to promoting a safe environment, requirements and expectations placed on members, and incorporates the authority and jurisdiction of the U.S. Center for SafeSport. USA Gymnastics also established a stand-alone Safe Sport Department that includes education, training, investigation and enforcement elements.
Based in Indianapolis, USA Gymnastics is the national governing body for gymnastics in the United States. The organization’s disciplines include men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling, acrobatic gymnastics and gymnastics for all (formerly known as group gymnastics). For more complete information, log on to usagym.org.