sportsThe Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program  has released, State of Play: 2016, about  making sport accessible and affordable to all kids. Findings include:

  • The percentage of youth physically active to a healthy level through sports fell again last year, even as sport participation among 6 to 12 year-olds rose
  •  Federal support for recreation infrastructure grew, while gaps in access to sport in low-income areas became more apparent
  • Major sport organizations rallied around promoting multi-sport play, as the number of team sports played by the average child fell
  • Most coaches are still not trained in safety and other key areas.

The kid ssports participation grades, collected through an online survey and on-site, electronic polling:

Stakeholders’ 8 Areas of Opportunity
Grade
1 – Ask Kids What They Want: Understanding the needs of kids and building their voice into the decision-making process around youth sportsD
2 – Reintroduce Free Play: Making room for less-structured activityD+
3 – Encourage Sport Sampling: Exposing kids to a variety of sports, and not asking them to specialize early in any one sportC-
4 – Revitalize In-Town Leagues: Supporting community-based optionsC
5 – Think SmallBeing creative in the use and development of play spacesC
6 – Design for Development: Delivering age-appropriate programs
7 – Train All Coaches: Training in key competencies in working with kids
C-
8 – Emphasize PreventionPreventing brain and other injuries
C-

Overall, participants at the Summit issued an average grade of C- when asked, “What grade do you give stakeholders in getting kids active through sports?”

The State of Play: 2016 report includes the latest participation rates of children in team sports with data provided by  the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. It also highlights projections from the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins University, developed for Project Play and introduced at the Summit, on the economic and health benefits of getting more children active through sports – $20 billion in direct medical costs saved and $32 billion in productivity losses saved, if just half of kids get and stay active.

At the Summit, First Lady Michelle Obama said, “This has to become a priority in our society. …So whatever the dollar figure is, as a society, as taxpayers and as corporate America, we should figure out how much that costs and then pay for it. Period.”

The report can be viewed at: as.pn/play2016

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