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.
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.
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.
We must increase the number of credentialed coaches in the U.S. At minimum, they should be trained in:
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.
For the initial rollout of Project Play: Southeast Michigan, we have chosen three “plays” to focus on:
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!
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.
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.
Follow us to get the latest on how to support, advocate and participate in Project Play: Southeast Michigan.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on Project Play news, events and resources.