#DONTRETIREKID
Kids everywhere drop out of sports too early.Together, we can keep them in the game.

When it comes to our childen’s future, we’re not playing any games.

Project Play: Southeast Michigan is driven and funded by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation’s Youth Sports & Recreation focus area in partnership with the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program. Project Play: Southeast Michigan serves seven counties in the region: Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, St. Clair, Monroe and Livingston.

Our Mission

Research has shown that active children go on to live happier, healthier and more successful lives. Project Play: Southeast Michigan envisions a community in which all children have the opportunity to be active through sports—and to live their best lives.

Every child—regardless of location, income or ability—should have access to fun and fulfilling physical activities. Our goal? For every child in America to have the ability, confidence and desire to be physically active for life.

Our Framework

Project Play: Southeast Michigan is modeled after Project Play’s “Eight Plays.” These are eight strategies identified by the Aspen Institute to help children become—and stay—physically active through sports.

Nine out of ten kids say “fun” is the main reason they want to play sports. So, there’s really only one question: “What sounds like fun?”

Children who spend more time in less structured activities are generally better equipped to set their own goals and take action on them. Those children also display higher levels of academic creativity as college students.

By providing more athletic opportunities to children, we can increase the probability they will find a sport they enjoy. That improves the chances they will continue to play sports throughout their lives.

Travel teams often add complexity and cost to sports. That doesn’t translate to success or satisfaction for the children who participate in them. The answer? In-town leagues.

Sprawling mega-sports complexes are all the rage in suburbia, but for most kids, a quality play space can also be a simple, cost-effective one. In urban areas, this could mean finding modest spaces to develop into mini-fields. These locations are easier to find and can be developed for as little as $15,000. A full-sized turf field can cost as much as $1 million.

We need to accept that kids are not miniature adults. They deserve an experience that recognizes their mental, emotional and physical stages of development, and builds on them. The goal should be to improve, not to win. Games and drills with small teams lead to more individual chances to touch the ball and build key skills. This allows children to develop in their sports as they develop in their bodies.

A coach can develop a lifelong athlete – or destroy a child’s love for sports.

  • In one study, only 5% of kids who played for a trained coach quit the next year. That number jumped to 26% for untrained coaches.

We must increase the number of credentialed coaches in the U.S. At minimum, they should be trained in:

  • Coaching philosophy on how to work with kids
  • Best practices in the areas of physical literacy and sport skills
  • Basic safety

Nine out of ten parents have safety concerns, especially regarding concussions. Youth sports should produce positive health outcomes. Therefore, policies and rule changes that eliminate or greatly reduce head contact for kids 12 & under should be introduced.

Our Challenge

For the initial rollout of Project Play: Southeast Michigan, we have chosen three “plays” to focus on:

  1. 1. Reintroduce Free Play
  2. 2. Encourage More Sport Sampling
  3. 3. Train All Coaches
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For Parents

All families want the best for their kids. We hope the following resources and events can help to guide you on a path toward the opportunities and information you need to get and keep your child playing!

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For Coaches

As a volunteer or professional coach, you are always on the run from one practice or game to the next, but these resources can help you up your game on your time and from your own home or office.

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For Youth Sports Organizations

As our initiative gains momentum, community and youth sports organizations will play a vital role in inspiring our children with the power of play. Explore Project Play: Southeast Michigan’s resources to create more opportunities for play in your youth programs.

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Ready to change the lives of our youth for the better?

Follow us to get the latest on how to support, advocate and participate in Project Play: Southeast Michigan.

Project Play: Southeast Michigan
Project Play: Southeast Michigan
Legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk was in Ferndale this summer for the grand opening of a new skate park in Geary Park partially funded by the Tony Hawk Foundation. Check out this great article about him, his feelings about Detroit and getting kids more active. #projectplay #dontretirekid
Project Play: Southeast Michigan
Project Play: Southeast Michigan
Free Play - kids who spend more time in less structured activities are generally better equipped to set their own goals and take action on them. They also display higher levels of academic creativity as college students. When was the last time a child you know went outside and just played?

Show us photos of kids free playing and learn more here: https://bit.ly/1QVJfDu
Project Play: Southeast Michigan
Project Play: Southeast Michigan shared a post.
Kids should play sports because it’s fun. "Parents put so much pressure on the kids."
Project Play: Southeast Michigan
Project Play: Southeast Michigan
Check out what Chris Weber has to say about sports today versus when he was a kid.
Project Play: Southeast Michigan
Design for Development – Hoop Dreams at 25: Is Youth Basketball Any Wiser Now?
It’s been a quarter-century since the release of Hoop Dreams, the sports documentary that launched the genre with its revealing portrait of two young basketb...
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We want to hear from you. Email us at [email protected] or call us at 313-961-6675.

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