King County Executive Dow Constantine
King County Executive Dow Constantine recently announced $4.6 million in funding for youth sports and outdoor recreation — including a significant increase from federal COVID-19 recovery assistance — to increase access to sports and recreation for people of color Improving youth after a comprehensive community-based review helped focus investment on racial justice.
A total of 45 organizations will be funded based on an extensive community review process aimed at promoting equal access to sport and leisure. King County Parks has partnered with the King County Play Equity Coalition and 50 independent community evaluators to evaluate proposals while applying racial equity principles.
“Investing in these 45 community-led projects will create more opportunities for young people — and young people of color in particular — to play, exercise and socialize, and will contribute to the long-term health of our entire region,” said Executive Constantine . “Success requires significant investment guided by the expertise of the community. Thanks to our strong partnership with the King County Play Equity Coalition, we are delivering just that.”
Here are some examples of the 45 community-led projects that will be funded:
• Braided Seedsa black women-led nonprofit that works to break down barriers so black people, indigenous peoples and young people of color can get outside, enjoy nature and reconnect with the land
• AGEa black-led, neighborhood organization that harnesses the power of sport for a more just society by offering sports-based youth leadership programs in partnership with six Seattle public schools
• Game of Life Sport Mentoringa sports-based youth leadership development and mentoring program that addresses the disproportionality of black and brown youth in the county’s juvenile court system and provides young people with an alternative to violence through basketball and mentoring
King County Council added $2.5 million in federal COVID-19 aid to the $2.1 million in youth athletic scholarships, for a total of $4.6 million.
Restrictions on group gatherings, school and park closures, and increased costs during the pandemic exacerbated racial, economic, and geographic disparities in young people’s access to sports and recreation.
“For everyone, but especially the youth, outdoor recreation is incredibly important and fun,” said Jeanne Kohl-Welles, King County Councilman. “All of these organizations are doing a great job of making outdoor activities and sport accessible, inclusive and an integral part of young people’s lives. I am delighted that this funding will ensure more young people have better opportunities to play!”
“Children in South King County have never had the same access to athletic fields, open spaces or recreational opportunities as children in other parts of the county,” said King County Councilman Dave Upthegrove. “Working with the Play Equity Coalition, we’ve put money into tackling this inequality. Now all kids can enjoy the benefits of joining a sports team, kicking off a soccer ball at the local park, or attending a summer adventure camp.”
“Our youth have been hit hard by the pandemic, with a lack of social interaction and a decrease in physical activity that has led to increased mental health problems,” King County Councilman Reagan Dunn said. “Organized sports and recreation programs can help our children re-engage socially, improve connections and promote physical and mental health. We need to get our kids moving again.”