Huddle Up November 2019: Let’s Give Thanks
Project Play WNY has spent the better part of 2019 highlighting the problem points of the 21st Century Youth Sports model. We have intentionally drawn attention to data and circumstances that indicate too many WNY kids are getting priced out, pushed out, or burnt out of youth sports.
The recent #Don’tRetireKid campaign similarly draws attention to a hyper-competitive, adult-dominated youth sports culture that leaves many kids with a “why bother” attitude toward athletics. Such awareness messaging is essential to draw parents, educators, coaches and policymakers into discussions of how we can all work together to create a youth sports culture that is genuinely inclusive of WNY kids.
The risk of this messaging is that drowns out all the positive aspects of youth sports. So for the last part of 2019, Project Play WNY is recognizing the good work that exists in WNY youth sports. On November 3, we partnered with the Buffalo Bills for a Thank You Coach event, which included the naming of the Project Play WNY Coaches Honor Roll. Throughout September, Project Play WNY ran a social media and email campaign that solicited nominations of youth sport coaches who focus on the social and athletic development of young athletes. One hundred and twenty of those nominations became the Project Play WNY Honor Roll and each honoree was invited to attend the November 3 Buffalo Bills game and hear from other inspiring youth sports coaches.
On November 12 and November 16, Project Play WNY invited the leaders of WNY youth sports organizations to attend Community Conversations aimed at strengthening their organizations’ capacity to reach kids. The goal of the conversations was to not only help the organizations learn of ways to expand their reach, but also thank the leaders for the countless hours they devote to ensuring WNY kids have the opportunity to be active through sport.
Project Play WNY wants to continue the theme of thanks as we close out 2019. This holiday season, please share with us via social media a Thank You message to a coach or youth sports provider that you have seen make WNY youth sports better on a small or large scale. We are fortunate to live in a tight-knit region that is at its best when it rallies around each other and points out the positive of what makes WNY great.