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Fairfax honored for sports safety

Wednesday - 8/21/2013, 3:42am  ET

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Members of the Annandale High School girl's lacrosse team begin practice with a warm-up at Ossian Park, across from the school, in April 2013. The teams uses a program designed to strengthen knees and teach team members how to jump, land and pivot with proper form. The program has helped the squad to avoid ACL tears. (WTOP/Paula Wolfson/File)

WASHINGTON - The start of a new school year means a lot of kids are heading off to the playing field.

Injuries from torn tendons to concussions are a big worry for parents and coaches alike. But one local school district is getting national recognition for its commitment to the safety of its student athletes.

All 25 of the public high schools in Fairfax County have won the "Safe Sports School Award" from the National Athletic Trainers Association.

John Reynolds, administrator for the school system's training program, says they were cited for their commitment to the health and safety of students taking part in sports.

Fairfax has long been a national leader in placing athletic trainers at its schools.

"We have been able to provide these services for going on 30 years now, so that's unique," says Reynolds.

The first trainers were hired in the 1970s. By the early 1980s, there was one trainer in every Fairfax public high school. Today, each high school has two trainers.

These trainers provide evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation services on a daily basis. The school district has also instituted a concussion management program that includes a focus on facilitating an injured student's return to the classroom.

Sports safety programs are not quite the norm yet in all the nation's schools. Reynolds estimates that about 40 percent or so of the high schools across the country have access to an athletic trainer. He says in Virginia, about 70 to 74 percent of schools have access to a trainer.

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