Partnership for Play unites groups to keep kids active

With close to one-fifth of US kids overweight and a rise in diagnoses of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol in children, the YMCA of USA, National Recreation and Park Association, and National Association for Sport and Physical Education formed a coalition to encourage kids to play at least an hour a day, increase the number of places for playing, and recruit other groups to expand the effort.

With close to one-fifth of US kids overweight and a rise in diagnoses of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol in children, the YMCA of USA, National Recreation and Park Association, and National Association for Sport and Physical Education formed a coalition to encourage kids to play at least an hour a day, increase the number of places for playing, and recruit other groups to expand the effort.

Strategy
Led by Dittus Communications, the effort sought to sign up as many third-party organizations as possible. Solutions the coalition proposed for the problem of childhood obesity and inactivity focused on legislation introduced in the Senate to create a "community play index" and various recommendations proposed by a February report by Stanford University on the state of inactivity by kids in the US today.

Tactics
Members of the three founding groups and Congress, as well as local kids, attended a February 15 press conference announcing the report and introducing the legislation. Along with a Web site, www.playeveryday.org, information was spread via press releases, listservs, and Web sites of coalition members, which at launch included 26 associations and seven corporations, including Kellogg and Toyota.

Results
CNN was the biggest media hit for the press conference. The legislation is still pending in the Senate, with a House version possibly to be introduced in June. The campaign hasn't yet resulted in any measurable increase in play, but Kelly Kennai, YMCA of USA's communications manager for government relations and policy, says her group has been inundated with calls from people wanting to help.

Future
The partners will work to sign on new members, all presenting a consistent message. "We want to have one message we can all rally behind," Kennai says.

PR team: YMCA of USA (Washington), National Recreation and Park Association (Ashburn, VA), National Association for Sport and Physical Education (Reston, VA), and Dittus Communications (Washington)

Campaign: Partnership for Play Every Day

Duration: January to March 2007

Budget: $50,000

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