As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, Project Play WNY is a trusted resource for families and youth sport organizations to keep kids of all ages active and engaged through play and sport. Kids and families need the outlet of play and the community of sports to help them stay strong during times of crisis and recovery. Please check out our fun activities and resources focused on providing support and information to help us re-engage in active play and sport. YOU CAN ALSO JOIN US FOR THE WNY FREE PLAY CHALLENGE!
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When it comes to our children’s future, we are playing games.

Project Play: Western New York is driven and funded by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation’s Youth Sports & Recreation focus area in partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program.

Our Mission

Project Play Western New York envisions a community in which all children have the opportunity to be active through sports.

Every child—regardless of location, income or ability—should have access to fun and fulfilling physical activities that build confidence and set them on a path for lifelong success.

Our Framework

Project Play Western New York is modeled after Project Play’s “Eight Plays.” These are eight strategies identified by the Aspen Institute to help children become—and stay—physically active through sports.

Nine out of ten kids say “fun” is the main reason they want to play sports. So, there’s really only one question: “What sounds like fun?”

Children who spend more time in less structured activities are generally better equipped to set their own goals and take action on them. Those children also display higher levels of academic creativity as college students.

By providing more athletic opportunities to children, we can increase the probability they will find a sport they enjoy. That improves the chances they will continue to play sports throughout their lives.

Travel teams often add complexity and cost to sports. That doesn’t translate to success or satisfaction for the children who participate in them. The answer? In-town leagues.

Sprawling mega-sports complexes are all the rage in suburbia, but for most kids, a quality play space can also be a simple, cost-effective one. In urban areas, this could mean finding modest spaces to develop into mini-fields. These locations are easier to find and can be developed for as little as $15,000. A full-sized turf field can cost as much as $1 million.

We need to accept that kids are not miniature adults. They deserve an experience that recognizes their mental, emotional and physical stages of development, and builds on them. The goal should be to improve, not to win. Games and drills with small teams lead to more individual chances to touch the ball and build key skills. This allows children to develop in their sports as they develop in their bodies.

A coach can develop a lifelong athlete – or destroy a child’s love for sports.

  • In one study, only 5% of kids who played for a trained coach quit the next year. That number jumped to 26% for untrained coaches.

We must increase the number of credentialed coaches in the U.S. At minimum, they should be trained in:

  • Coaching philosophy on how to work with kids
  • Best practices in the areas of physical literacy and sport skills
  • Basic safety

Nine out of ten parents have safety concerns, especially regarding concussions. Youth sports should produce positive health outcomes. Therefore, policies and rule changes that eliminate or greatly reduce head contact for kids 12 & under should be introduced.

For Families

All families want the best for their kids. We hope the following resources and events can help to guide you on a path toward the opportunities and information you need to get and keep your child playing!


For Coaches

As a volunteer or professional coach, you are always on the run from one practice or game to the next, but these resources can help you up your game on your time and from your own home or office.


For Youth Sports Organizations

As our initiative gains momentum, community and youth sports organizations will play a vital role in inspiring our children with the power of play. Explore Project Play: Western New York’s resources to create more opportunities for play in your youth programs.


Ready to change the lives of Western New York’s youth for the better?

Follow us to get the latest on how to support, advocate and participate in Project Play WNY.

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Project Play WNY
Project Play WNY2 days ago
It's time for Monday PE Class! Grab your coat and head outside for a puppy run! Race to your finish line on all fours. Challenge your siblings or friends to a race or see if you can beat your best time.
Project Play WNY
Project Play WNY1 week ago
BOKS is hosting a FREE Summer Resource Training on April 15! Designed to provide more movement opportunities for kids from early childhood through high school, BOKS aims to get kids active throughout the day! Register now:
Project Play WNY
Project Play WNY2 weeks ago
Join us for the WNY Free Play Challenge: Spring Break 2021! Visit Sprague Brook Park today for a hike with your family and submit pictures or videos for a chance to win free play equipment.
Project Play WNY
Project Play WNY2 weeks ago
Join us for the WNY Free Play Challenge: Spring Break 2021! Visit Golden Hill State Park today for a hike with your family and submit pictures or videos for a chance to win free play equipment.

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