Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

August 2017

Tackling the Active Play Deficit

By Chandler Garland

At the beginning of this summer, the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) commissioned the 2017 Let's Play State of Play survey to determine just how much time children and tweens spend doing active play. The survey uncovered a larger deficit in activity than America has seen.

Let's Play was launched in 2011 by DPS, in partnership with KaBOOM! and Good Sports, to encourage nationwide play.

"Through Let's Play, we are committed to providing kids and families with the tools, places and inspiration to make active play a daily priority," said Vicki Draughn, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group vice president of corporate affairs. "By providing underserved communities with safe, accessible playgrounds and sports equipment, we're making play possible for more kids and doing our part to help eliminate the play deficit."

The parents of American children and tweens revealed on the survey that America's youth are filling their free time with non-active play, when they have any free time at all. According to the statistics collected in this survey, seven out of 10 parents cite busy schedules as the number-one impediment to active play. America's youth are busier than ever before with demanding school work and extracurricular activities. The push to be involved and excel in grades has left students with very little time to ride bikes through the neighborhood or hit the local playground. More than 50 percent of tweens (roughly ages 10 to 13) recorded on the survey that they wished they had more time to be active and play sports.

In tandem with this issue of time, kids are drawn more than ever to technology and electronics, which encourage inactive play. Roughly 81 percent of percent of kids consider gaming to be part of playtime. Due to this, screen time for kids nearly doubles from weekday to weekend, while active play only increases by an hour on average. Active play has fallen on the national list of priorities for many families, which is a danger to children's health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highly recommends that kids should get at least 60 minutes of activity and exercise every day. Lack of exercise and play leads to high stress, obesity and other diet-related complications.

Since its commission in 2011, the Let's Play initiative has fought to change this deficit and its resulting problems through efforts such as building and improving playgrounds, providing grants for sports equipment, and taking yearly surveys to monitor the state of play. It has been able to provide more than 10 million children with more opportunities to play in safe and accessible play grounds. As of 2017, DPS has invested $28 million in grants for new or improved playgrounds and sports equipment, impacting hundreds of youth-serving organizations across the United States, as well as Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. DPS and its partners are especially interested in providing these services to underdeveloped neighborhoods that otherwise couldn't afford to give children active play opportunities.

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