When we work together, we Play For All. The LA84 Foundation brought together more than 400 difference-makers at its Sixth Annual Summit on Friday, October 27, at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE. Themed The New Era of Youth Sports: Play For All, the day featured keynotes, panels, and power talks all centered around equity, inclusion, and innovative ways to ensure that all youth have equal access to sport as a way to promote positive development and life-long wellbeing.
The event featured keynote addresses by Allyson Felix, the most decorated athlete in Track & Field history, three-time Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings, and four-time Olympic swimming gold medalist, and LA 2028 chair Janet Evans and an address from LA84 Foundation President & CEO Renata Simril. More than 20 Olympians and Paralympians attended the daylong event, and were joined by civic leaders, sports executives, nonprofit leaders, national sports experts and professional athletes.
Simril’s address kicked off a day focused on play equity and using sport as a vehicle for youth development. “I’m confident that with the power, experience and influence of people in this room, we can make sure no kid gets left behind. We’ll make sure that the dreams of our youth are not defined by their zip code,” Simril said.
Janet Evans followed the opening remarks with an update on the 2028 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, which were awarded to Los Angeles on September 13, 2017. The Games will be LA’s first since 1984, and Evans emphasized that the 11 years leading up to the event will forge a legacy beyond Los Angeles. “We want to generate new sports legacy for young Americans young Angelenos everywhere. While we are partial to Los Angeles, this is a statewide bid and a national bid. We hope to inspire athletes and young people from all over our country,” Evans said.
Throughout the day, panels and speakers inspired with sports-related messages of equality, inclusion, perseverance and activism.
2017 Rhodes Scholar and former LA84 grantee youth Caylin Moore brought a standing-room only crowd to tears as he reflected on his journey from a childhood that included homelessness and domestic violence into success on the football and academic fields. Paralympic gold medalist Mallory Weggemann’s powerful message of inclusion for adaptive athletes showed Summit attendees about sport’s power to help an individual recover and find empowerment after a traumatic accident. Allyson Felix, the most decorated track & field athlete of all time, illustrated how she did not begin her sprinting pursuits until high school and expounded on the value of sport-sampling and not having youth over-train in one specific sport.
The Voices from the Field panel also listened to the insights of those impacted most by the changing landscape of youth sports: young athletes. Moderated by two-time NBA All-Star Baron Davis, the panel of five shed light on the issues kids face every day in youth sports. Blind USC Football long snapper Jake Olson touched the audience as he shared how football gives him a chance to showcase his talent and be respected and seen as a normal player, while Brotherhood Crusade member Sarah Robinson went into how playing basketball helped her improve her grades by providing something to work toward.
The day ended with a keynote interview from three-time Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings, being interviewed by two-time Olympic gold medalist, World Cup Champion and Summit emcee Julie Foudy. As she touched on her career in conjunction with her young children, Walsh Jennings’ reflections summed up the day seamlessly. “I look at my kids play, and it’s not about the end results,” she said. “It’s about the joy of playing, and the chance to grow through experience.”
Sponsors of the Summit included: The Los Angeles Times, Verizon, Fox Sports West, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, the Los Angeles Galaxy, KCRW, the Los Angeles Chargers, The Foundation for Global Sports Development and City National Bank.
About the LA84 Foundation
For over 30 years, the LA84 Foundation has experienced first-hand the power of sport to change lives. The foundation’s funding, focus and advocacy has positively impacted more than 3 million under-served and under-resourced youth, supported over 2,200 organizations and trained 80,000 coaches. With a third Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles coming in 2028, the LA84 Foundation is ready to take their work to even greater heights as they begin to build a new legacy for the next generation.