Project Play

Addressing barriers that limit access to health-promoting sports opportunities for youths

Dates of Project: March 2012 to June 2015

Description: The Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society program created Project Play to ensure that all children can participate in sports and develop health and fitness habits that last into adulthood. The project focuses on community sports rather than school sports, and the needs of children through age 12—especially those in underserved groups and communities.

“The goal is to create ‘sport for all, play for life’ communities where sports are accessible to all, not just kids who are good at it or kids in upper-income homes that can afford it.”—Tom Farrey, Director, Project Play

Key Results

  • Sports & Society staff convened a kick-off summit in 2013 to explore barriers to universal participation in youth sports, and create a model for physical activity that reaches all children and communities. Some 80 leaders from sports, health care, academia, government, business, and philanthropy attended.

  • Summit participants came to consensus on core principles for a culture of sport that welcomes all children.

  • Project Play adopted “participation” as the cross-cutting rationale for its work: focusing on children who are being left behind.

  • Key organizations in sports and health are supporting Project Play, and some are revising their policies to encourage wider participation in youth sports.