How much do our kids play? Not as much as you think. And here’s what we’re doing about it.

On Tuesday, September 10, we were excited to release the analysis and recommendations from a two-year effort conducted by the University of Washington’s Center for Leadership in Athletics and The Aspen Institute, in coordination with King County Parks and many other partners.

The study, called the State of Play: Seattle-King County, found that less than 19% of youth in King County get the amount of physical activity recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a figure that is below the national average and declining.

Among the recommendations, the study points to empowering local schools to be community hubs for physical activity, improving transportation options that connect youth to parks and playfields, and equipping program staff and policy-makers with an equity toolkit to help ensure equitable access to physical activity for youth.

In order to act on these recommendations, King County Parks and our partners are teaming up to establish the Play Equity Coalition, which will unite the efforts of school districts, local jurisdictions, community groups and sports leagues to address these challenges. All the local pro teams – including the Mariners, Sounders FC, NHL Seattle, and Seawolves, have also committed to the effort, specifically to encourage youth physical activity through a coordinated public health education campaign.

Other findings include:

  • In a rapidly growing, increasingly diverse region, access to physical activity – both free play and organized activity – is inequitably distributed in multiple ways, including based upon race, socio-economics, language, physical ability, and gender.
  • Youth who do not speak English at home are both less active and less likely to participate in organized activities than their native English-speaking peers.
  • King County has abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation, but the lack of infrastructure – such as fields, facilities, and transportation – promotes inequitable access to opportunities for physical activity.
Project partners and event speakers provided remarks about the study’s findings and their commitments to action with the launch of the Play Equity Coalition.

Learn more about why physical activity is so critical for youth, how we measure up, and what we’re doing about it!

This study is the result of a two-year-long effort to lay the groundwork for a community-driven collaboration and carry out the research and analysis. The State of Play Advisory Board members were critical to the success of this effort. Many thanks for your support and participation!

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