The Power of Play

An Aug. 12 event brought metro Detroit girls together to celebrate their abilities on the court and the field.
Hundreds of girls spent a summer afternoon playing at the UWM Sports Complex in Pontiac.// Photograph by Cyndi Elledge.

More than 200 girls participated in an Aug. 12 event designed to get them excited about — and in some cases introduce them to — what sports can do for them. It was organized by a local chapter of Project Play, an organization dedicated to making sure kids throughout Michigan’s southeast region have access to sports and physical activities.

It was formed after a study in the area found that on average, only 13% of youth were spending at least an hour per day being physically active (11% for girls). For the August event, Project Play’s southeast Michigan director, Alana Glass, says they wanted to focus on girls to honor the 50th anniversary of the enactment of Title IX — legislation meant to prevent discrimination based on gender in schools.

“Title IX wasn’t enacted specifically to address sports, but … it has allowed girls to have equal access,” Glass says. “So at Project Play, we wanted to honor and celebrate the history of Title IX and how far we’ve come but also highlight that there are still challenges that exist for girls.”

Working with several partner organizations, Project Play’s event, held at the UWM Sports Complex in Pontiac, brought girls and young women from Livingston, Wayne, Macomb, Washtenaw, and Oakland counties to participate in eight different sports, including soccer, tennis, basketball, and cheering done on TikTok, “which was really popular,” Glass says, laughing.

Some of the girls were experienced athletes, while others were trying things out for the first time. Glass says she was glad to see that the girls felt welcome to try new things, even in front of their peers.

“It was inspiring. I have to say I was emotional half a dozen times that day just seeing the girls just having fun and being championed for being who they are,” Glass says.

This story is from the November 2022 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition.