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The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation: Improving the Health and Wellbeing of the Rust Belt

3 min read
December 4, 2017

The holiday season is a joyful time for many people, particularly children who relish the thought of school vacation, opening presents, and fun-filled events. Memories are made when kids have a chance to actively play outside in the snow, enjoy trying out a new pair of ice skates, or hit the court for a holiday basketball tournament.

Through the generous work of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the youth of Western New York, Greater Rochester and Southeast Michigan (the Foundation’s primary region’s for investment) are getting the support they need to become more physically active through organized sports and free play. The Foundation’s investment in childrens’ health is aimed at reversing alarming trends associated with a lack of daily physical activity, reduction in the amount of time devoted to free play, and singular focus on only one sport from an early age.

Earlier this year, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation commissioned three regional studies by the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program, in partnership with local community foundations in Southeast Michigan, Western New York and Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes. The regional assessments examine access, quality and participation in youth sports, and the research can be found in each region’s “State of Play.”

The research is a game-changer. In each market, more than 1,000 local voices informed the analysis which reveals bright spots, gaps and opportunities to get more kids in the game.  The Aspen Institute analyzed reach region through its existing framework of eight strategies, or “plays,” designed to increase sport participation in urban, suburban and rural youth.

While the State of Play reports will help to inform grantmaking strategies for the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and each market’s community foundation, the broader hope is that each region will begin to engage in the conversation and collectively rally around our youth.

The Martin Group is proud to work with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and cheer on its efforts to improve the health, social skills, and character of the next generation of athletes and sports enthusiasts. The trustees of the Foundation continue Mr. Wilson’s spirit of giving every season of the year through each of the Foundation’s four focus areas: children and youth; young adults and working class families; caregivers; and livable communities.

To learn more about the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, check out their website.

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