Project Play Summit Coming to Detroit for First Time, Focus on Importance of Youth Sports

The Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C. is hosting the Project Play Summit Sept. 17-18 at Detroit’s Renaissance Center. The summit attracts youth, sports, and health care leaders, measures the state of play, and charts next steps in building healthy children and communities through sports.
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Renaissance Center
The Project Play Summit will be held in September at the Renaissance Center. This is the first time the summit has been held outside of Washington, D.C. // Photo courtesy of Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center

The Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C. is hosting the Project Play Summit Sept. 17-18 at Detroit’s Renaissance Center. The summit attracts youth, sports, and health care leaders, measures the state of play, and charts next steps in building healthy children and communities through sports.

This is the fifth summit and the first time it has been scheduled outside of Washington, D.C.

“If we’re going to be successful in our city’s comeback, we need to do everything we can to support our youth,” says Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who will offer welcome remarks at the event. “We’ve made great strides improving recreation and sports opportunities for the children of Detroit, thanks to great partners like the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. I am deeply appreciative of the Aspen Institute for recognizing this progress and bringing the first Project Play Summit outside of our nation’s capital to the city of Detroit.”

Erik Bakich, baseball coach at the University of Michigan, will be a featured speaker. Other speakers include Chris Webber, five-time All-NBA player, U-M star, and Turner NBA analyst; Valorie Kondos Field, seven-time UCLA NCAA champion gymnastics coach; David Brooks, a columnist for The New York Times, best-selling author, and executive director of Aspen Institute’s Weave project to renew America’s social fabric; and Cassidy Hubbarth, the event’s master of ceremonies and an ESPN NBA reporter and host and a college football host.

More speakers and the full agenda will be revealed in the coming weeks on the Project Play website.

“Southeast Michigan is site of the nation’s most ambitious experiment in recent decades to build healthy communities through sports and recreation,” says Tom Farrey, executive director of the Aspen Institute Sports and Society Program. “The investments made and actions taken by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, and other partners make Detroit an ideal venue to advance the national conversation about how to get and keep kids active through sports. We look forward to sharing learnings with thought leaders from across the country.”

The summit will include workshops, networking, and discussions on topics such as cutting through cultural and financial barriers to bring sports to children in minority communities and how to keep children in sports.

The event follows the launch of the #DontRetireKid campaign by the Aspen Institute, ESPN, and partners. The average child quits playing a sport by age 11 because it isn’t fun anymore. Parents have reported that children as young as first grade are feeling stressed and families are under pressure to cover rising costs, according to research released by the institute.

Last year, 38 percent of kids ages 6-12 played team sports on a regular basis, down from 45 percent in 2008. The campaign draws attention to children who “retire” from sports prematurely due in part to pressure from adults and pressure on families to cover escalating costs.

Registration for the event costs $499 for general summit attendees and is available here.

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