Driving Impact: Project Play Releases New Tools, Reports and Commitments to Help More Kids Get Active Through Sports

October 18, 2018

Online training courses for coaches and communities among more than a dozen announcements made at Aspen Institute’s annual Project Play Summit

Contact: Jon Solomon
Editorial Director, Sports & Society Program
The Aspen Institute

Washington, DC, October 18, 2018 – The Aspen Institute’s Project Play initiative announced two online resources to benefit children who play sports – one to train coaches and another to assist community leaders to build healthy kids through sports. The tools were introduced this week at the Project Play Summit, the nation’s premier gathering of leaders at the intersection of sport, youth and health, and at a post-Summit workshop.

HowToCoachKids.org aggregates resources to train coaches by sport and topic, and includes a new, free 30-minute course on the general principles of coaching children through age 12. Co-developed by Nike and the U.S. Olympic Committee with the help of the Aspen Institute, the resource was inspired by Project Play 2020, a multiyear effort by leading organizations to grow national sport participation rates and related metrics among youth.

Meanwhile, for individual communities, the Project Play Teamwork Toolkit will soon be a first-of-its-kind resource. Parents, sport leaders, civic and school leaders, non-profits and others will be able to use the digital platform to help build Sport for All, Play for Life communities. The toolkit draws on knowledge the Aspen Institute has acquired from landscaping the state of play for youth and mobilizing leaders in several cities, counties and regions. Users will have free access to the toolkit, which has been developed in partnership with ESPN and Under Armour and will be available in early 2019.

More than 400 guests attended the sold-out Project Play Summit on Oct. 16 and heard discussions with sports legends Kobe Bryant, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Tony Hawk, plus international trailblazers. Read a recap of the game-changing ideas discussed at the Summit. The event concluded Wednesday with the Post-Summit Workshop.

Other Project Play announcements and content released around the Summit included:

  • Project Play released State of Play: 2018, the third annual report examining the national landscape of youth sports participation through data and trends. Among the findings: flag football surpassed tackle in 2017 as the most commonly-played form of the game for kids ages 6 to 12; fewer kids are physically inactive; sampling of most major team sports is up; and kids from low-income homes face increasing barriers to sports participation.
  • Twenty organizations were named Project Play Champions, a new program recognizing select groups that commit to take exemplary actions consistent with the framework of Project Play. The Champions are: 500 Festival, Algonquin Sports for Kids, Appleton (Wisc.) Parks & Recreation Youth Sports, Association of Chief Executives for Sport, Banner Neighborhoods Community Corporation, Detroit PAL, DREAM, Fred Wells Tennis and Education Center, i9 Sports, Lindy Infante Foundation, MVP360 Leadership Development Programs Inc., National Council of Youth Sports, Racquet Up Detroit, Saturday Night Lights, Seneca Babcock Community Association, Susan Crown Exchange, U.S. Soccer Federation, U.S. Youth Soccer, Up2Us Sports, and Victory Sports Global Outreach Inc. Read about the new commitments these organizations made to become a Project Play Champion.
  • Healthy Sport Index was launched in partnership with Hospital for Special Surgery, marking the first time the public can identify in one place the relative benefits and risks of participating in the 10 most popular high school sports for boys and girls. The tool, available at HealthySportIndex.com, combines the best available data and expert analysis while allowing users to customize sport-by-sport results through their own health priorities for participation.
  • State of Play: Mobile County, Project Play’s sixth community report and the first entirely of a single U.S. county, was released. The report examined the state of youth sports in Mobile County, Alabama. Findings included fewer sports opportunities for girls and the prevalence of gambling by adults on youth sports.
  • Project Play will travel west for two State of Play community reports in 2019 – State of Play: Hawai’i (partnering with Lili’uokalani Trust) and State of Play: Seattle-King County (partnering with the University of Washington and King County Parks). The reports will be released at the 2019 Project Play Summit.
  • A white paper titled Coaching Social and Emotional Skills in Youth Sports will be released in early 2019 by the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program and the National Commission on Social, Emotional, & Academic Development. The paper, which is supported by the Susan Crown Exchange, will include clear recommendations for how coaches can integrate social and emotional learning techniques with their coaching strategies.
  • The AARP announced it will work with the Sports & Society Program to bring more play to grownups, building on lessons learned from Project Play around mobilizing stakeholders for youth. Play is important for all ages, not just children.
  • The Sports & Society Program produced a white paper on the Future of Football. The paper concluded that children, the game and communities are likely to benefit if flag becomes the standard way of playing before high school, with proper tackling technique taught in practice settings in the age group leading into it.
  • Companion online content from Aspen Institute staff for the Summit included a podcast on mixed-gender sports, a reflection on lessons learned about youth development from France winning the men’s World Cup, and 10 charts that show the progress and challenges to fix youth sports.
  • Did you miss the Project Play Summit? Watch video from the sessions at pn/PPLive, including conversations with Kobe Bryant, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Tony Hawk and 40+ other speakers.

Finally, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation announced Wednesday an investment of $200 million in parks and greenways in Southeast Michigan and Western New York, in celebration of what would have been the 100th birthday of its founder, the late owner of the Buffalo Bills. The Wilson foundation is a member of Project Play 2020 and draws on State of Play reports for those regions to inform its grantmaking.

An initiative of the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program, Project Play develops, applies, and shares knowledge that helps stakeholders build healthy communities through sports. For more information, visit www.ProjectPlay.us.

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