Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

Community Foundation & Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation unveil groundbreaking ‘State of Play’ report

Jun 29, 2017 | Posted in News

Today, the Community Foundation and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation released ‘State of Play’, an independent assessment conducted by the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program that examines access, quality, and participation in youth sports in the eight counties of Western New York.

Among the 40-plus findings in the report:

  • Not Enough Kids Active at a Healthy Level: While 84 percent of parents believe it’s important to have their children regularly involved in sports, only 16 percent of youth across Western New York are physically active one hour a day, the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • It’s About More than Sports: A Johns Hopkins University analysis projects that if stakeholders in the region can get and keep just 25 percent of youth active daily, 7,488 fewer youth would be overweight and obese, saving the region more than $262 million in direct medical costs and workplace productivity losses.
  • Where Have the Neighborhood Games Gone?: The sports experience has changed dramatically over the last generation or so, with children participating in fewer sports and activities near their homes. Casual/pick-up play has become far less common, with more youth primarily playing in organized team settings.
  • Many bright spots, but we can do better: The Western New York region deserves a C+ in getting kids active through sports, according to an online survey of youth sport providers and other stakeholders. The grade aligns with research by the Aspen Institute, which found many innovative organizations and grassroots champions dedicated to youth, but also gaps in program access, especially in low-income and rural areas.

“Our vision is to have a Western New York community in which all children, regardless of ZIP code or ability, have the opportunity to be active through sports,” said David O. Egner, President & CEO, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “The State of Play report identifies the challenges we face as a region, but more importantly, it also shares the opportunities that all of us in the community – parents, educators, funders, and leaders – can pursue for improvement.”

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation commissioned the report and partnered with Community Foundation to create and oversee a local task force of youth sports practitioners and leaders who provided insights, expertise and feedback throughout the eight-month research process.

“For the first time ever, we have a clear picture of what the state of youth sports looks like in our region,” said Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, President and CEO, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. “State of Play is a playbook that will drive community conversation and action on how we can collectively address youth sports for years to come.”

More than 1,000 local adults and youth informed the State of Play report through interviews, roundtables, focus groups and surveys. The Aspen Institute analyzed the region through its existing framework of eight strategies, or “plays,” designed to increase sport participation with urban, suburban and rural youth.

The eight “plays” include:
* Ask Kids What They Want: Understanding the needs of kids and building their voice into the decision-making process around sports
* Reintroduce Free Play: Making room for less-structured activity
* Encourage Sports Sampling: Exposing kids to a variety of sports, and not asking them to specialize early in any one sport
* Revitalize In-Town Leagues: Supporting community-based options
* Think Small: Being creative in the use and development of play spaces
* Design for Development: Delivering age-appropriate programs
* Train All Coaches: Training in key competencies in working with kids
* Emphasize Prevention: Preventing brain and other injuries

  • Please click here to read the full report.
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