New bill by Rep. Colin Allred would create an annual national grant program, delivering critical support to youth development programs in underserved communities
Congressman Colin Allred (D-TX) officially announced the introduction of the PLAYS in Youth Sports Act (H.R. 8552) to Congress.
H.R. 8552, also known as the PLAYS in Youth Sports Act, calls on the Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, to establish a $75 million annual grant program to support nonprofit organizations working to improve health and positive youth development through youth sports participation.
Coalition research earlier this year reinforced the importance of much-needed operational resources to help youth development program leaders, particularly those committed to underserved communities, for addressing the ever-increasing volume of challenges beset upon them by outside influences such as the COVID-19 pandemic, rising wages, labor shortages, and inflation.
Working with leaders such as Congressman Allred, along with leaders at the state level, the PLAY Sports Coalition has been a driving force in garnering support and funding for youth sports and increasing access to youth sports for all who want to play, especially those in underserved populations.
The legislation was cosponsored by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).
PLAYS in Youth Sports Act authorizes grants to support youth sports activities or promotion, training and certification for coaches, efforts to increase participation in youth sports, and activities to promote safety and health, including abuse prevention.
“The benefits of participating in sports are undeniable, but too many families are unable to experience those benefits, especially in underserved or at-risk communities,” said Olympic Gold Medalist & PLAY Sports Coalition interim executive director Benita Fitzgerald Mosley. “Legislation like the PLAYS in Youth Sports Act is critical to supporting these communities and giving kids and families the chance to succeed in life through participation in sports.”
Principles reflected in the PLAYS Act also align with the Children’s Bill of Rights in Sports, a statement developed by The Aspen Institute’s Project Play initiative that has been endorsed by more than 130 organizations and 300 athletes.
Katie Adamson, Vice President, Health Partnership and Policy, YMCA of the USA and Board Member of the PLAY Sports Coalition also reflected on the Act: “Collectively, YMCAs are the largest provider of youth sports programs in the United States. We are thrilled to support ‘The PLAYS in Youth Sports Act’ because it will have a profound impact on our ability to advance positive youth development and put a caring adult in the life of a child. Like the Y, the bill aims to make sports accessible to all in terms of enabling children and youth in under-resourced communities and those living with disabilities more opportunities to play through youth sports programs and sports in after-school and camps.”
“Children living in underserved communities have to overcome any number of obstacles to realize their full potential. Equitable access to sports programs shouldn’t be another one, especially because sports participation offers advantages for life,” said PLAY Sports Coalition co-chair and LeagueApps president, Jeremy Goldberg.
Read the entire PLAYS Act here.