May 4, 2020

Play Pulls Us Through

Five weeks.  That is how much time has passed since we sent out our last Project Play WNY newsletter. A short time frame and yet so much has changed. Some of us have lost friends and loved ones to the virus, leaving thoughts of work, recreation and sports on the very back burner of our minds. Some have lost jobs or the routine of our jobs. Others have watched more closely the cancellation of spring seasons and summer camps and wondered about the return of sports at all levels. Facilities remain closed and social distancing and face masks the norm. All of us are still processing what has occurred in the past five weeks.

The numbers reported by health departments highlight that we are not yet through this crisis, and we risk a return to isolation if we do not develop strategies and plans to manage COVID-19 threats. Reports from national youth sports organizations and governing bodies are similar — youth sports and recreation can return, but only with thoughtful actions based on medicine and science. Talk of recovery has started and is needed, if only to provide something to look forward to during the long days.

As we mentioned last month, Project Play WNY has focused our social media and website on providing short term support and information for families and youth sport organizations. Project Play WNY Working Groups also used the past five weeks to brainstorm, gather information and develop resources on how to prepare for the recovery when it comes. Starting this week, Project Play WNY will be increasing our support to include discussions of how youth sports can recover given the risks that we will need to manage for the next several months, if not the full year. 

Last Friday, we hosted a webinar with Dr. Les Bisson on how to use this stay at home time to help our young athletes build strength and avoid future injury. On Friday, May 15, we will host a webinar with leaders of local youth sports organizations as to best practices on developing recovery plans. We are also gathering leaders in summer youth recreation to decipher how we can still keep kids active if organized gatherings are not permitted. 

We have created a new Resources page on our website, on which the information we gather will be posted for your viewing. We will continue to bring people together to brainstorm what can be done for our youth in the coming months. You may have read or heard our new public service announcements regarding play and its importance during difficult times. 

While we do not know what the next five weeks will look like, we do know that we need to keep playing. It relieves stress and brings smiles. It builds strong families and relationships. Play pulls us through.

We always welcome your thoughts, ideas and comments at