State of Play: Seattle-King County

The Center for Leadership in Athletics is working to bring the Aspen Institute’s  national initiative, Project Play, to King County starting with the State of Play report. The State of Play report initiates a regional commitment to reimagining youth sport and addressing inequities in youth access to physical activity through sports, play, and outdoor recreation.

Joining the UW Center for Leadership in Athletics and King County Parks in this work, to date, are the Seattle Mariners, Kaiser Permanente, Seattle Children's Hospital, the YMCA of Greater Seattle, evo, and the Bezos Family Foundation. Each of these organizations understands the importance of youth physical activity from a different vantage point and is committed to taking bold steps in King County.

Also joining the effort are educational and non-profit partners, such as Seattle and Highline Public Schools, Best Starts for Kids, the Congolese Integration Network, DiscNW, the Austin Foundation and many other community partners who have also pledged their support. We look forward to building a broad and diverse coalition of concerned and committed organizations as we begin this work.

Find out how you can get involved here

Background Information on Project Play and King County: 

King County, like many other communities in the nation, has experienced a decrease in youth participation in team sports and physical exercise. According to a study put out by Healthy Children and Youth of King County in 2016, only 22% of children in King County met the recommended minimum physical activity quota in 2012 to 2014. With this lack of physical exercise, King County will have to face many increased population health risks and concerns for years to come. Already, the national rate of childhood obesity has tripled since 1980 (State of Obesity, 2013), and changes must be made in order to prevent this trend from increasing.

To help fight decreasing youth physical activity rates, the University of Washington’s Center for Leadership in Athletics (CLA) has partnered with King County Parks to bring the Aspen Institute’s national initiative, Project Play, to King County.  

The Community Foundation and Aspen Institute present "The State of Play" from Detroit Lives! on Vimeo.

The Project Play iniatitve in King County will bring together a coalition of civic, business, and community organizations  committed to increasing youth access to opportunities for play, sports, and physical activity.

The first task of the coalition will be to conduct a landscape analysis of the “State of Play” for youth sports and activity.  The analysis will be done in partnership with the Aspen Institute using a template they have used in Baltimore, Southeast Michigan, and upstate New York.  The analysis will look at King County strengths and challenges in the following eight areas:

  • Asking kids what they want
  • Reintroducing free play
  • Encouraging kids to sample different sports
  • Revitalizing in-town leagues
  • Increasing access to parks
  • Designing for development
  • Training coaches
  • Emphasizing injury prevention

The priorities that arise from the landscape analysis will

  • Provide policy makers with a roadmap for their strategic and financial investments relative to supporting youth health and physical activity
  • Allow public and private organizations to form strategic partnerships to amplify their work  addressing issues raised by the landscape analysis
  • Help organizations and programs target their existing or new initiatives to meet the identified needs of the region

The Aspen Institute’s Sport & Society program is a national leader in youth sport and physical activity.  To read the Aspen Institute’s latest Project Play report, “State of Play 2017,” please click here

There are a variety of ways to get involved with Project Play efforts in King County, including donations and volunteer work. To learn more about getting involved, please contact Julie McCleery.  

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