UW Center for Leadership in Athletics

State of Play Seattle–King County

In 2019, the University of Washington Center for Leadership in Athletics landscaped youth sports in Seattle and King County. The project was in partnership with the Aspen Institute, and King County Parks, along with the YMCA of Greater Seattle, Seattle Mariners, Kaiser Permanente, the Bezos Family Foundation, evo and Seattle Children’s Hospital in an effort to prioritize equal access to youth sports.

Since the release of the State of Play Seattle–King County in 2019, the initiative has made significant progress in the following ways:

  • The University of Washington formed the King County Play Equity Coalition (KCPEC) to support and improve equitable access to safe, fun physical activity for all King County youth. Every Seattle pro sports team joined the group, including the Mariners, Seahawks, Sounders, Storm and Kraken. The group meets monthly and uses the findings and recommendations from the report to guide a collective action process to increase the rate of youth meeting the CDC’s physical activity guidelines. KCPEC is the region’s expert and lead advocate in dismantling barriers that hinder underserved youth from enjoying the benefits of sport and play.

  • KCPEC evolved from a grassroots movement into a self-sustaining organization in 2023. Seattle’s pro sports teams and the Seattle Sports Commission donated $500,000 over four years to the coalition to promote equity and access in sport and play.

  • KPCEC secured passage of the Washington State Recess Bill, one of the strongest recess/physical activity laws in the country. The law guarantees students in grades K-5 to receive at least 30 minutes of recess each day. It also directs the Washington State School Directors Association to create a model policy that must be adopted by local school boards that encourages physical activity breaks for middle and high school, encourages schools to hold recess before lunch in elementary school, prohibits the use of physical activity as punishment, and discourages withholding recess for disciplinary or academic reasons.

  • Other KCPEC efforts include research reports, weeklong sports sampling camps, and partnering with the Kent and Tukwila communities to run inclusive basketball clinics.

  • Seattle Children’s Hospital received a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through its Youth Engagement in Sports program, which identifies effective collaborations that improve physical activity and nutrition.

  • King County’s $110 million in new grant funding for categories such as urban parks and open space, targeted equity, and aquatics prioritizes that grantees implement recommendations from the State of Play Seattle–King County report.

  • The report’s recommendation to strengthen shared-use agreements that would make public facilities more accessible was studied by a Governor’s Task Force, which established a number of recommendations for new state policies.

  • The report received media coverage from the Seattle Times, KUOW, KNKX, MyNorthwest and Crosscut.