Project Play was first developed by the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program in 2013 with the goal of making sports accessible to all kids, regardless of zip code or ability. The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has since adopted that initiative and framework with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo to engage the Western New York community around the importance of sports in children’s lives.
According to new research released by the Aspen Institute, the average child in the United States spends less than three years playing a sport, often quitting by age 11, with a primary cause being that they no longer find athletics fun. Parents report that kids as young as first grade are feeling stress related to sports, while families are under increasing pressure to cover rising costs of participation. Because of this, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has launched the “Don’t Retire, Kid” campaign, a national campaign based off of research that kids who are physically active do better in school, are more likely to go to college, are less likely to be obese, and generally have better health and life outcomes that they will pass on to the next generation.
With only 38 percent of kids participating in youth sports, it is important that we bring the fun back into sports. Project Play WNY focuses on reintroducing free play, encouraging sports sampling, training all coaches and capacity building, with working groups in each area that are comprised of members who share the same passion for improving the youth sports culture in our region.
To learn more about Project Play WNY, visit the brand new projectplaywny.org.