What We Do

Our Mission

Project Play WNY funds programs and convenes local youth sports partners to build healthy communities where young people from diverse backgrounds can play together.

Happier Children.

Healthier Families.

Stronger Communities.

Our Vision

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

Hear from Dion Dawkins of the Buffalo Bills about Project Play’s mission in Western New York.

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.

Ask Kids What They Want

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?”

Reintroduce Free Play

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

Encourage More Sport Sampling

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.

Revitalize In-Town Leagues

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.

Think Small

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.

Design for Development

Kids 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.

Train All Coaches

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.

Emphasize Prevention

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.

Through our key initiatives, we can improve youth sport participation

Grant Opportunities

As part of its mission to give children the opportunity to lead active, healthy and fun lifestyles, Project Play WNY awards grants to organizations providing youth sports and “Free Play” programming, and celebrates the contributions of coaches.


We want to empower you to make a difference for our children through sport. Below, you will find materials and resources to aid you or your organization in improving the state of youth sports in Western New York.

For Coaches

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For Coaches

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For Families

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For Families

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For Youth Sports

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For Youth Sports

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