Project Play explores breakthrough ideas at three types of events: Town halls/summits for large gatherings, all-day deep dive roundtables with 25+ thought leaders, and "Aspen Timeout" panels held at major conferences of stakeholder organizations

At the 2015 US Open tennis tournament, the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program convenes sport leaders to explore opportunities to encourage sport sampling among children, as outlined in the third strategy of the Project Play report, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game. At the event, U.S. Tennis Association will also announce an endorsement of multi-sport play by national sport governing bodies and other key organizations.

September 7, 2015 to September 8, 2015
9:00 am to 4:00 pm
New York, NY


September 7, 2015 to September 8, 2015
New York, NY

At the 2015 US Open tennis tournament, the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program convenes sport leaders to explore opportunities to encourage sport sampling among children, as outlined in the third strategy of the Project Play report, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game. At the event, U.S. Tennis Association will also announce an endorsement of multi-sport play by national sport governing bodies and other key organizations.

September 15, 2015 to September 17, 2015
Las Vegas, NV

Project Play is proud to be part of two speaking engagements at the 2015 National Recreation and Parks Association Annual Conference where we'll address the more than 7,000 park and recreation professionals, citizen advocates, and industry suppliers at the premier annual meeting of the park and recreation community. At the conference, Project Play will share Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game and will emphasize the role that park and recreation departments can play in giving all children the opportunity to be active through sport.

The Future of Play
Wednesday, September 16 | 1:00-1:45pm PDT
The future of play belongs to one of two realms – virtual or physical. Right now, virtual is winning the day. Video games, internet sites, and other technology options are more effectively engaging children, providing great exercise for thumbs and not much else. What will it take to steal back the concept of “play” and address our national epidemic of physical inactivity? Tom Farrey, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program, discusses the eight key strategies, as identified in the Project Play report released earlier this year.

Enhancing Sports and Fitness in Parks
Thursday, September 17 \ 8:00-9:15am PDT
This session will highlight national physical activity, fitness, sport, and play guidelines and provide park and recreation professionals with tools to put these guidelines into practice. Panelists will discuss updates to National Physical Activity Plan, Project Play's role in informing the plan, and ACE Fitness’s solutions to working with outside fitness professionals in parks. Case studies will be used to provide concrete examples and attendees will have time to engage in a short discussion about implementing these national initiatives.



October 6, 2015
Washington, DC

The increasingly sedentary lifestyles of children, and participation declines in many youth sports, are in part due to a structural reality: lack of access to safe, affordable, nearby recreation facilities. State, county and municipal leaders from across the U.S. and around the world must find ways to avoid closure of more parks, recreation centers, and sports complexes.

Challenging outdated finance and management models is essential. Funding is a key factor in the development of new parks and recreation centers and the maintenance of existing recreation assets. Communities that have been successful in addressing financing issues have developed innovative approaches that often involve private-sector budgeting models, public-private partnerships, and economic impact analyses which justify new or continued investment in sport and recreation centers.

With support from the Sports Facilities Advisory,this roundtable of 20-25 experts and leaders will be solely focused on identifying solutions to overcome the challenges associated with financing public parks and recreation, and sports parks. It will include discussion and structured dialogue about proven strategies, models, and new trends tied to the financing of public and public-private partnerships. Highlights and insights from the dialogue will be captured in an event summary report and video clips that will be distributed widely through the Project Play network of thought and organizational leaders.


About the Sports Facilities Advisory

The Sports Facilities Advisory and Sports Facilities Management (SFA|SFM) is the leading resource in sport, recreation, and active facility planning and management. Since its founding in 2003, SFA|SFM have served a portfolio totaling more than $4 billion in planned and operational sports centers in communities throughout the USA and internationally. In recent years, SFA|SFM have opened more than two million square feet of indoor sport and recreation centers and more than 800 acres of outdoor complexes. The firm is currently working on more than $500 million in projects that are in the planning or financing stage. In 2015, the companies’ clients will host more than 18 million visits.

June 27, 2015
Aspen, CO

Over the past decade, coalitions in about a dozen countries have embraced initiatives based on a desired outcome in individuals and populations called “physical literacy.” These efforts have been launched in response to a common problem in industrialized societies: declining rates of physical activity. But what is physical literacy? Can it be measured? And how to build a cross-sector movement around it in the U.S., with special focus on engaging our most vulnerable children? At this session, the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program released a white paper, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, conceptualizing a path forward. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy delivered opening remarks, followed by a panel moderated by Sports & Society executive director Tom Farrey and featuring Kathleen Sebelius, former secretary of Health and Human Services; Dr. Kenneth Davis, president and CEO of Mount Sinai Health System; and Dr. Shale Wong, Professor of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of Colorado-Denver.

June 13, 2015 to June 16, 2015
Vancouver, BC

The Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program and Project Play will be leading a session at the 2015 International Physical Literacy Conference, which brings together sport, health, education and recreation experts to advance the knowledge, application and implementation of physical literacy programming across the globe. The session also marks the release of the Aspen Institute's global scan of physical literacy efforts, the first-ever document of its kind (see materials below for downloadable PDF).

June 10, 2015 to June 12, 2015
Morgantown, WV

Sports & Society Program Executive Director Tom Farrey will deliver a keynote address, "Activating Project Play: How to Get All Youth Coaches Trained?" The theme for the 2015 National Coaching Conference is "Physical Literacy: The Launching Pad for Lifetime Athletic Development and Performance," a topic on which Project Play Advisory Group member Dean Kriellaars, professor at the University of Manitoba, will also present a keynote address.

The National Coaching Conference is hosted by the United States Coaching Education Coalition, whose members include the U.S. Olympic Committee, NCAA, National Federation of State High School Associations, SHAPE America and National Strength and Conditioning Association. The conference brings together coaches, coach educators/developers and sport science researchers for the enrichment of coaching and sport. This year's program will focus on current research and practice models for optimal integration of athletic development for both participation and peak performance.

May 29, 2015
San Diego, CA

Project Play is among representatives from more than 70 disciplines that will come together from around the globe at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting to share new clinical techniques, scientific advancements and cutting-edge research in sports medicine, exercise science, physical activity and public health. At the meeting, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Executive Director Tom Farrey will present the Project Play report, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game,  and lead a panel discussion designed to help the sports medicine community understand how it can take actions consistent with the report and its eight strategies aimed at giving all children the opportunity to be active through sport. He will also offer preview the forthcoming physical literacy white paper, to be released in June.

Joining Farrey will be:

  • Carrie Jaworski, M.D., FACSM, NorthShore University Health Systems
  • John DiFiori, M.D., UCLA School of Medicine
  • Mike Bergeron, Ph.D., FACSM, Sandford USD Medical Center, executive director, NYSHSI
March 14, 2015
Austin, TX
San Jacinto Room at the Four Seasons

Technology is often blamed for falling participation rates in team sports. But tech isn't going away (nor should it). So, how do we use tech as an asset to reduce the barriers to an early positive sports experience for all kids in all communities? How can technology help in reaching the hardest-to-reach kids, the ones most often left behind by today's youth sports system? On the heels of the release of the Aspen Institute's Project Play report, join us at SXSports for an engaging conversation about how technology - a solution to so many of society's needs - can help solve a broken youth sports system.

February 26, 2015
Washington, DC
Aspen Institute

Over the past decade, about a dozen countries have introduced, in a variety of forms, social movements based on a concept that has become known as “physical literacy.” Now we’re helping introduce it to the U.S. Defined by our working group as “the ability, confidence, and desire to be physically active for life,” physical literacy efforts are a response to a common problem in developed societies: declining rates of physical activity.

Convened the day after the 2015 Project Play Summit (also held in Washington), the roundtable event will:
• Review the paper that our Physical Literacy Working Group has drafted
• Amend proposed sector recommendations and suggest additional ideas
• Lay the groundwork for broad adoption of physical literacy as a desired outcome with children

February 25, 2015
Washington, DC

What happens when 350 leaders gather to reimagine youth sports in America, using the Project Play report as a guide? A major groundswell of energy and efforts to make sports more accessible, affordable and enjoyable to more children. 

The 2015 Project Play Summit was hosted at the Newseum by the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program on the heels of the release of our report, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game. A unifying document that aggregated the best ideas from nearly two years of roundtables and other events, the report offers a new model for youth sports based on the values of health and inclusion, with eight strategies and 40+ ideas on creating the opportunity for all children to get active through sports.

The summit was attended by high-level leaders from the eight sectors that shape access to quality sport activity -- community recreation groups, national sport organizations, policymakers & civic leaders, education, public health, business & industry, and tech & media. Sold out a month in advance, the event was live-streamed to a virtual audience and generated significant social media conversation.

Highlights included the keynote address of U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who framed youth sports as a tool of disease prevention, and, in a first for his office, emphasized the need to extend the benefits of participation to all children. "Sports can be viewed as a privilege, or as a luxury, but for me and for many children who grow up in America, sport isn't just that," he said. "It's a necessity." Of the Project Play report, he said, "You have built a very powerful roadmap" for cross-sector collaboration that will help youth sports serve the needs of public health.

By the end of the day, 17 organizations including the NCAA, Major League Baseball, U.S. Lacrosse, afterschool programs and leading medical groups, announced commitments to action consistent with the strategies identified in the report. Each had been selected for inclusion through the "What's Your Play?" submission process organized by Project Play.

Event sponsors included the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA and Whistle Sports. Project Play partners include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Nike, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, Clinton Foundation, University of Florida Sport Policy & Research Collaborative, and the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. Additional thanks to ESPN, USA Bobsled & Skeleton, Wally Haas and William Mayer for their collaboration and support.

October 10, 2014
Dana Point, CA
St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort

A nationally representative survey of parents conducted by espnW and the Aspen Institute's Project Play shows broad and often deep concern about the state of youth sports, on topics ranging from concussion risks to the costs of participation to the quality and behavior of coaches. With results in hand from the espnW/Aspen Institute Project Play survey, we co-hosted a roundtable at the conclusion of The espnW: Women + Sports Summit where thoughts leaders reacted to the findings. The event helped define and elevate the voices of mothers in the conversation around quality youth sports.

For more information, contact program coordinator Risa Isard.

September 24, 2014
Chicago, IL
Navy Pier

Any true commitment to broad-based sports participation begins with infrastructure. Fields. Gyms. Rinks. Rec centers. Bike paths. Build, maintain and secure ‘em, or pay the price later. Federal support for such projects took a serious hit in 1980, and it’s never recovered. Today, we see park and rec departments under significant duress – and the rise of private, specialized athletic facilities whose programming is too expensive for many families. In Chicago, the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program convened 40+ leaders for a Project Play conversation on how to grow the supply of safe play spaces that meet the needs of all children in all communities. Held at Navy Pier on the final day of the Illinois Youth Sports Summit, and on the eve of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Assembly, the dialogue identified breakthrough ideas in funding, collaboration and innovation that can serve urban, suburban and rural communities – each of which face its own distinct challenges. Leaders also considered ways that the hosting of an Olympic Games could best leave a legacy of community facilities.

September 24, 2014

In collaboration with the Aspen Institute’s Project Play, the Illinois Youth Sport Summit convened 64 leaders from across a wide spectrum of state agencies and organizations that are responsible for the design, delivery, and execution of youth sports programming. The two-day summit explored the barriers that impair cooperation across sectors, and began the process of designing and sustaining youth programs that benefit all kids in all communities across Illinois.

As a result of the summit, the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois has now created the Illinois Youth Sport Initiative, which will serve two primary purposes. First, it will provide a platform for sharing resources, insights, and strategies for positive reform of youth sport. Second, it will facilitate formulation and implementation of tactics to achieve such reforms, promoting alliances and collaborations among youth sport providers. The initiative represents the first state-based analog to Project Play, a national effort to reimagine youth sports in a form that delivers universal access to an early positive sports experience.

“The Illinois Youth Sport Summit complements Project Play by inviting state and local policymakers to reimagine youth sport,” said Laurence Chalip, professor and chair of the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois. “We have worked closely with Project Play, and will continue to do so as we roll out the next steps. The partnership between Illinois youth sport policymakers and Project Play is valuable partnership because it strengthens the links among local, state and national efforts to build an inclusive and positive youth sport experience for all young people.”

Chalip, a member of the Aspen Institute’s Project Play advisory group, doctoral student Raquel Hutchinson, Operations Director of the Illinois Youth Sport Summit, and Jarrod Scheunemann, Community Services and Education Coordinator of the Office of Recreation and Park Resources will spearhead the state-based initiative. It will produce a white paper to summarize key ideas from the summit, and is forming working groups to action those ideas. The ideas flowed from the two-day summit at Navy Pier in Chicago, where the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program also hosted a roundtable of 40 leaders, “Fields of Dreams: Innovate and They Will Come?” The events were held on the eve of the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Assembly.

“Designing solutions at the state-based level is important,” said Tom Farrey, executive director of the Sports & Society Program. “Each state has a different set of challenges, barriers, policies, opportunities and resources when it comes to getting kids active through sports, so gathering the key stakeholders from across sectors, from the parks and recreation level up, holds great promise in identifying opportunities for collective action. I look forward to seeing what the initiative develops, as a potential model for other states.”

For more information about the Illinois Youth Sport Summit, visit their website and read Reinventing Youth Sports in Illinois: A Report from the Illinois Youth Sport Summit.