New report: Area youth just aren't active enough

Jun 29, 2017

Just 12 percent of youth in the Rochester/Finger Lakes region get an hour a day of physical activity, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That's one of the many findings in a new report called "The State of Play," compiled by the Aspen Institute.

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation commissioned the report and partnered with the Rochester Area Community Foundation, which created a regional task force to help gather data on youth sports.

Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation CEO David Egner says nationally about 27 percent of kids get that hour a day of activity, but it's less than half that number in this region.

"Only 12 percent, and if you were to get that up to 25 percent the downstream savings in healthcare and lost productivity is $243 million, just in this region alone," he said.

He says the combination of safety concerns and technology keeping kids inside is a growing concern.

Kids playing indoor soccer at the Genesee Valley Sports Complex in Rochester, where today's event was held
Credit Alex Crichton

"We've got to find creative solutions over all those things, or we've got a pending health crisis down the road with really obese, unconnected kids that aren't as productive in society as they could be," he said.

8th grader Chad Thomas is an honor roll student at East High School

He says sports help him maintain good grades despite all the distractions in school.

"Sports help me through those distractions because they allow me to push toward getting better grades, so I am able to play those sports that are in school," he said.

The State of Play comes on the heels of a $5 million dollar endowment grant by the Wilson Foundation to local youth sports programs, administered by the Rochester Area Community Foundation.

CEO Jennifer Leonard says the report reinforces things that we already knew:  sports is good for the body, the head, and health, and creates a lifelong predilection to activity.

She says they'll try to spread that message throughout the community.

"We will do some community roundtables to discuss how to respond to the report, looking at our assets, needs and opportunities.  And we will announce grant making opportunities, starting in the fall," she said.

This fall, there will be grant opportunities for the new Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Legacy Fund for Youth Sports, which will try to strengthen the quality, quantity and accessibility of youth sports and recreation for program for young people in the region.

Here's Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation President and CEO David Egner asking 13-year old Chad "CJ" Thomas about why playing sports is important to him: