New “SportPort” equipment sharing program launches to give kids more opportunities to play

In Press Release
  • Pilot program is part of Project Play: Southeast Michigan initiative – funded by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation in partnership with the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the YMCA
  • SportPort kicks off on Aug. 3 in Pontiac with four more locations to follow

Research has shown that active children go on to live happier, healthier and more successful lives. Project Play: Southeast Michigan, an initiative driven and funded by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation in partnership with the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program and powered by the YMCA, is designed to do just that – give children more opportunities to play.

Project Play: Southeast Michigan is supporting the establishment and operation of a pilot program called “SportPort,” a sports equipment sharing program in southeast Michigan. Through both stationary and mobile partners throughout the region, SportPort will provide access to equipment for sports, such as baseball, basketball, tennis, hockey and more.

Powered by the Y Positive Play Initiative (YPPI) collaborative of four YMCAs including YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit, Ann Arbor YMCA, Blue Water YMCA, and the Monroe Family YMCA , the Y on the Fly mobile program is bringing varying sport and recreation equipment to specific sites throughout the year to encourage free play and sports sampling.

“Only 13% of youth in Southeast Michigan are active one hour a day,” said Mariam Noland, president, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. “We want to put sports equipment into the hands of kids, so they can play outside while sampling a variety of sports. We are proud to work with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation on this critical program.”

“Through a number of community conversations that took place following the release of our 2017 State of Play report for the region, we heard loud and clear that improving access to sports equipment was a priority to help get kids playing more,” said Jim Boyle, vice president of programs & communications, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “We’re excited to be building these key partnerships throughout the region to deliver an innovative solution to address that need.”

Project Play: Southeast Michigan plans to launch pilots in 15 communities throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, St. Clair, Monroe and Livingston counties to launch programs that lend sports equipment to local children over a three-year period.

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan announced $200,000 in grants through the Project Play Initiative for the first five stationary community partners that will serve as inaugural equipment lending sites for SportPort. The first recipients are:

  • Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley in partnership with Community Family Life Center of Ypsilanti
  • Pontiac Public Library
  • Pinckney Community Public Library
  • City of Port Huron Parks & Recreation
  • City of Marysville Recreation

Grants will help the communities set up a stationary lending program to loan sports equipment to local youth with no cost to youth and families. With support from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, mobile equipment units, powered by the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit, will also bring varying sport and recreation equipment to specific sites in each of the communities throughout the year.

Programming will provide youth the opportunity to access sport equipment and develop a love of free play and teamwork.” said Lynette Simmons, YPPI regional project director, YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit. “The first mobile unit community sites begin in Pontiac and we’ll be rolling them out to other communities in the upcoming weeks.”

SportPort is an important community resource for youth and their families. Like borrowing a book from a library, the program provides an opportunity for youth and families to borrow various sports equipment for a defined period.

The community organizations will launch their programs locally this summer on different dates.  The sports equipment is being sourced from Good Sports, of Quincy, Mass.

To learn more about Project Play: Southeast Michigan and SportPort visit