By Jonathan T. Reid
Renata Simril, LA84 Foundation President & CEO
The LA84 Foundation presented its Sixth Annual Summit on Friday, October 27 at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE.
LA84 Foundation President & CEO Renata Simril kicked off the day by welcoming everyone to the Summit and recounting collective impact of the previous year’s event. “We’ve been listening sowe can collectively inspire a ‘Play For All’ movement,” Simril opened with. “So that all children have access to the structures and play opportunities they deserve.”
Simril celebrated the return of the Olympic Games and awarding of the first-ever Paralympic Games to Los Angeles, and recognized the hard work of the LA 2028 organizing committee while giving an overview of the speakers and panelists of the day ahead. She then showed a video from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who welcomed all the attendees and expressed excitement for the upcoming 11 years on the road to the Games in Los Angeles.
Simril continued: “Our work is about elevating the legacy for the next generation.” Mentioning the critical role the 2028 Olympic Games has over the next 11 years, “we [LA84] hope to use the games as an organizing principle to wrap around our work. The end goal: continue to level the playing field so that all youth have equal access to sport.
“How do we continue to amplify the indispensable role that sports plays in positive youth development?” she then posed to the audience. Simril noted that 15 million youth in the U.S. live in poverty— an alarming number that the work of LA84 and its partners can aim to address through collaborations and by changing the narrative of the importance of youth sports over the next 11 years.
“Call the crisis exactly what it is. P.E. — Play Equity — is a social justice issue. Regardless of where they come from, or what they look like, all children should experience the transformative power of sport.”
Quoting LA84 President Emeritus and Olympian Anita DeFrantz, “play is a birthright,” Simril added. “When you think about kids playing. it’s magical. But the gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to grow.”
Adding to changes needed in the current systems in America, Simril noted that recess has become an afterthought in schools. But despite the widening disparities, she is hopeful. “[Through] the influence in this room… together we can make sure we leave no kid behind and that the dreams of our youth are not defined by their zip code.”