Community Conversations – King County Play Equity Coalition

During this extraordinary time, staying connected to our community and collaborating with our partners is more important than ever. We as King County Parks are happy to introduce a blog series to highlight different organizations that we partner with to shine a light on their work and provide them with a platform to share their stories.

Tell us a little bit about your organization.

Using the 2019 State of Play: Seattle-King County Report findings and recommendations as a springboard, King County Play Equity Coalition aims to increase the rates of King County youth meeting the CDC’s Physical Activity Guidelines so that all youth have access to the mental, emotional, academic, and physical benefits of movement.

We envision a King County where:

  • All youth are active to a healthy level
  • Access to sport and outdoor recreation is not determined by zip code, language, or race
  • Youth physical activity is a regional policy priority
  • King County is a national model for inclusive, healthy, youth sports and recreation

How has your mission and partnership work changed in the past few months?

Our mission remains the same, to increase the rates of King County youth meeting the CDC’s Physical Activity Guidelines so that all youth have access to the mental, emotional, academic, and physical health benefits of movement. The pandemic has amplified existing disparities as youth and families with fewer resources have less access to physical activity during these stay home orders due to school closures, limited outdoor play space around their home or community and less resources to connect virtually. Our energies have shifted to focus on helping our members through resource sharing, advocacy efforts to consider equity impacts while planning reopening of recreation, and fundraising to support organizations serving communities directly during these challenging times.

How have you or your partners been innovating around the themes of equity, access, and community engagement in relationship to the outdoors during this time?

We have hosted weekly webinars providing an on-going opportunity for members to connect, share resources, and collaboratively plan and learn from one another of how to adapt programming to support youth, schools, and communities through this time.

Many of our members have also shifted to supporting basic needs of youth, families, and communities:

• The Congolese Integration Network is helping to deliver meals to families and supporting their community in Federal Way, Tukwila, and Highline School Districts in accessing public school materials and devices during the school closures.
Soccer Without Borders is working closely with partners at the Seattle World School to ensure provision of basic needs like food, rental support, and computers for distance learning to SWB families that attend the school. They also launched a Stay Home Season, and coaches are guided through leading live, video practice sessions, weekly physical and creative challenges, and how to support youth and families one-on-one.
• The YMCA of Greater Seattle has opened up 900 spaces in emergency child care programs for the children of essential workers by transforming their fitness facility branches into community response centers. They are providing grab-and-go meals, housing support and virtual counseling.
Rainier Athletes is providing mentorship and weekly workouts to their students, but they have also partnered with Bellevue Lifespring to provide meal coupons, rent assistance, and more directly to their Bellevue families. Longstanding partnerships with organizations like Bellevue Lifespring, the Bellevue School District, and many more have proven vital and have been put into action.
Shoreline Sports Foundation coaches have been sending out videos to their individual teams for both workouts and connections. They also handed out properly sanitized outdoor basketballs for participants to practice and play at home. They are focused on continuing to build community through athletics in a time where that is something youth desperately need.
Seattle United has created a virtual platform to provide players with training ideas. They have created a weekly “soccer homework” sheet to help them stay motivated and focused, and are creating a list of resources (books, audio books, podcasts, articles) to share with players, parents, and coaches surrounding the mental side of performance. They have also initiated interactive “challenges” on social media to engage the players and have started a club podcast for news and entertainment.
South End Boxing Club is putting together a YouTube channel with workouts and tutorials for the youth they serve.
Positive Coaching Alliance is providing free online athlete workshops with a goal of keeping student-athletes engaged and learning during this time.

What has your team been doing to stay connected during this time?

Weekly zoom meetings with individual and small group follow up calls, multiple surveys to evaluate changing needs, and continuing to build cross sector partnerships. We have also been continuing to build the King County Play Equity Coalition’s interim leadership team to ensure members have diverse, strong leadership during this time and beyond.

Anything else you’d like our readers to know?

We are consistently sharing resources on our website and our blog to help support our members and community as they respond to this pandemic.

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