2016 Project Play Summit

In the year since the release of the seminal Aspen Institute report, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game, many organizations have taken action consistent with its eight strategies for the eight sectors that touch the lives of children. At the 2016 Project Play Summit at the Newseum, 450 leaders gathered to measure progress, share learnings and discover new opportunities to build healthy communities through sport.

The featured session was with first lady Michelle Obama, her brother Craig Robinson and his ESPN colleague, moderator Michael Wilbon, co-host of Pardon the Interruption. Three kids from South Side Chicago, all grown up, reflected on their childhood, sports parenting, and the importance of making sport affordable and accessible for all youth — regardless of zip code or ability. Obama marveled at the disparities in resources spent on children and sports across communities, challenging corporate America and other stakeholders to close the gap for children from low-income homes. (Video below, and White House transcript here)

"So many communities are becoming play deserts," said Obama, whose Let's Move initiative encourages physical activity. "But, in wealthy communities, there is a wealth of resources. You can be in field hockey, or you can learn how to swim. There are aquatic centers… I've seen the difference, the disparities are amazing to me. So are we saying that some kids are worthy of that investment of physical activity and then there are millions of others who aren't? And what's the role that we as a society have for making sure that we have equal access?"
Obama was joined by more than 60 other speakers at the sold-out summit, the nation's premier gathering of leaders at the intersection of sport, youth and health. Among them: Mary Davis, CEO, Special Olympics International; Tab Ramos, Youth Technical Director, US Soccer Federation; Jim Whitehead, CEO, American College of Sports Medicine; Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, CEO, Laureus Foundation USA; Dr. Bennet Omalu, Chief Medical Examiner, San Joaquin County (Calif.); Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; and Billie Jean King, civil rights pioneer. 

Several sessions were live-streamed, drawing more than 100,000 Facebook viewers during the day, with the hashtag #ProjectPlay trending at No. 1 on twitter. 

Note: Currently available video below, with more to come

Opening comments, by Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute and Lt. Gen. (ret.) Mark Hertling, member of President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

State of Play: 2016, by Tom Farrey, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program

Activation Strategy Sessions (morning)

Ask Kids What They Want
What does the new research tell us?

Moderator: Jeremy Goldberg, President, LeagueApps
Tom Cove, President and CEO, Sports & Fitness Industry Association
Holly O'Donnell, National Executive Director, America SCORES
Tom Paskus, Principal Research Scientist, NCAA
Edwin Roman, Senior Director of Consumer Insights, ESPN
Carlo Carino, Participant, The First Tee – New Orleans

Reintroduce Free Play
Can large orgs drive de-organization?

Moderator: Jon Frankel, Correspondent, HBO Real Sports 
Neeru Jayanthi, Director of Tennis Medicine, Emory University
Chris Marinak, SVP, League Economics & Strategy, MLB
Jason Collins, former NBA player
Jeremy Silberglied, Participant, Sports Plus

Encourage Sport Sampling
How can PE, clubs collaborate?

Moderator: Bill King, Senior Writer, Sports Business Journal
Brendan Ledwith, Coordinator, Sport Development, USA Volleyball
Sarah Lee, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion
Ken Martel, Technical Director, USA Hockey
Paul Roetert, CEO, SHAPE America

Revitalize In-Town Leagues
Who will be their champion?

Moderator: Dan Shanoff, Content & Programming, Monumental Sports Network
Ryan Eckel, Vice President of Brand, Dick's Sporting Goods
Noah Blue Elk Hotchkiss, Founder, Tribal Adaptive Organization
Rebecca Kodysh, Executive Director of Community Impact, Cleveland Indians
Max Levitt, Founder & Executive Director, Leveling the Playing Field

Lunchtime Featured conversations

Building a Social Movement for Access to Sport, with Billie Jean King and Risa Isard, program associate, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program

First Lady Michelle Obama, with brother and ESPN analyst Craig Robinson, moderated by ESPN show host Michael Wilbon

Activation Strategy Sessions (afternoon)

Think Small
Can we systematize creativity in play spaces?

Moderator: Kevin Martinez, VP, Corporate Citizenship, ESPN
Corliss Allen Solomon, Doctoral Student, University of North Carolina at Charlotte 
Chip Patterson, Executive Director, The First Tee of Greater New Orleans
James Siegal, CEO, KaBOOM!
Erin Smith, Director of Education and Training, US Lacrosse

Train All Coaches
How to engage the hardest-to-reach?

Moderator: Mike Fletcher, Senior Writer, The Undefeated, ESPN
Jon Feinman, Founder, InnerCity Weightlifting
Leah Friedman, Junior Development Coordinator, USTA Chicago 
Tony Korson, CEO, Koa Sports
Richard Pavlick, Co-Founder, Project Leader & Coach, YLC Kicks
Daleajah Williams, Playworks Junior Coach

Design for Development
Where to next with the American Development Model?

Moderator: Caitlin Morris, Sr. Dir. for North America, Global Community Impact, Nike
Christine Bolger, Coaching Education, United States Olympic Committee
Jeremy Campbell, Former professional wheelchair basketball player
Michael Clayton, Nat'l Coaches Education Program, USA Wrestling
Tab Ramos, Youth Technical Director and U-20 Men's Head Coach, U.S. Soccer

Emphasize Prevention WATCH
Brain Injuries: How much science do we need to act?

Moderator: Mark Hyman, Professor, George Washington University
Kevin Bieniek, Research Fellow, Mayo Clinic
Kate Carr, President and CEO, Safe Kids Worldwide
Dr. Sam Gandy, Prof. of Neurology and Psychiatry, Mount Sinai
Dr. Gerard Gioia, Division Chief, Neuropsychology, Children's National Health System
Dr. Bennet Omalu, Chief Medical Examiner, San Joaquin County (Calif.) and Professor, University of California-Davis

Afternoon breakouts 

Physical Literacy
How to implement the concept?

Moderator: Cedric Bryant, Chief Science Officer, American Council on Exercise
Dean Kriellaars, Associate Professor, University of Manitoba
Mike Sagas, Department Chair and Professor, University of Florida
Kathleen Tullie, Founder, BOKS

Model Communities
What works in building local coalitions?

Moderator: Steve Patrick, Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions
Renata Simril, President, LA84 Foundation
Jamie Schmill, New Orleans Program Officer, Laureus USA
Sara Couppas, Sports and Nutrition, Clinton Foundation>
Bruce Lee, Director, Global Obesity Prevention Center, Johns Hopkins University
Laurence Chalip, Professor, University of Illinois

Call for Leadership
Treetops to grassroots: How to scale a culture of health in sports?

Moderator: Tom Farrey, Aspen Inst. Sports & Society Program
Mary Davis, CEO, Special Olympics International
Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, CEO, Laureus USA
Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Jorge Perez, SVP, Programs and the Y Experience, YMCA of the USA
Jim Whitehead, CEO, American College of Sports Medicine

What's Your Play? announcements

Among the 10 commitments to action (others will be added soon):

Under Armour: Committed to lifting youth sport participation rates in East Baltimore through its Project Heartbeat initiative, with the support of the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program

YMCA of USA: Committed to adopting Project Play's Sport for All, Play for Life model and its 8 Plays in a "comprehensive, major upgrade of our youth sports approach and programs," to be scaled through the nation's 2,700 Y's over the next two to three years

Closing Comments

Leaders from each of the following sectors attended the 2016 Project Play Summit: National Sport Organizations, Community Recreation Groups, Public Health, Business & Industry, Tech & Media, Policymakers & Civic Leaders; Education; and Parents. Insights shared during the event will inform the conclusions of a forthcoming State of Play: 2016 report, a draft of which was released at the summit. A final version will identify key developments of the past year in each of the eight strategy areas that create the framework for action in the Sport for All, Play for Life report, along with the latest sport participation rates for children and other original data.


Washington Post news coverage:

"Why Michelle Obama, others are championing more access to sports for kids," by Alyssa Roenigk, ESPN

"Michelle O.: Bored kids get guns and 'just go off on society'," by Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner

Forbes news coverage:

"Project Play -- Project Parent," by Skye Eddy Bruce, the Institute for Soccer Parenting

Storify coverage of selected tweets with hashtag #ProjectPlay

White House transcript of conversation with Obama, Robinson and Wilbon

Aspen Institute media release on first lady's participation here

Graphical drawings of panelists, plus event photos

"Creating Multi-Sport Venues": Resource released at 2016 Project Play Summit, offering guidance for sports clubs, camps, parks & rec departments, and other providers that are looking to better understand how to integrate sport sampling into their programs


Additional thanks to ESPN, William E. Mayer, Microsoft, and the American Heart Association for their support.

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