Inaugural Play It Forward Grant, Awards Celebrate Getting Kids Active

Oregon Sports Awards is proud to announce the launch of the inaugural Play It Forward Award and Fund, sponsored by Nike and Providence Health & Service. Nike and Providence are committed to helping kids be physically active as an integral part of building healthier communities, and are partnering to recognize and award outstanding efforts to get kids moving in Oregon.

Unfortunately, fewer and fewer kids have the opportunity today to benefit from positive youth sports experiences and physical activity. One barrier to getting kids moving more is a lack of engaging and inspiring role models. Nike and Providence Health & Services hope to overcome this challenge by celebrating individuals and nonprofits that are already doing this important work through the Play It Forward Award and Fund.

The Play It Forward Award
Between September 2015 to May 2016, the Play It Forward Award will recognize one high school and one college athlete each month for the great work they are doing to give back to their communities across Oregon. Students can be nominated by a community member, teacher, or parent, or they can self-select to be considered for the monthly honor.

Mary Beth Barnum was named the Play It Forward Award High School Athlete of the Month for September 2015. Mary Beth is a senior soccer player at Saint Mary’s High School in Medford and has volunteered on a regular basis since the sixth grade at the TOP Soccer Outreach program. TOP provides adaptive physical education to children who may not qualify for organized sports or club activities due to behavioral or physical limitations. TOP connects kids in small groups of two to three people, with a coach who leads exercise and game activities to facilitate teamwork, social interaction and physical activity. Mary Beth coordinates the coaches for the program, assigns kids to coaches and acts as a coach herself, while also participating in program design. Dave Potter, the program director in Medford, says that Mary Beth is the single most important volunteer.

Parkes Kendrick was named the Play It Forward Award College Athlete of the Month for September 2015. Parkes is a junior soccer player at the University of Portland and volunteers regularly with the Immigrant Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) and Portland Parks & Recreation. Last summer Parkes volunteered for IRCO as a summer school literacy teacher for immigrant and refugee students–in the morning she taught students English grammar and vocabulary, and in the afternoon she lead recreational soccer. One of her most important responsibilities during this activity was to foster a welcoming environment for all cultures and backgrounds, making sure that the students were good teammates to everyone, regardless of another person’s country of origin or English proficiency. Parkes also volunteered with Portland Parks & Recreation for the annual Portland World Cup for immigrants and refugees. She played a behind-the-scenes role helping organize rosters, order equipment and set up the event. Parkes hopes to organize and coach a team of Nepali and Burmese girls for next summer’s tournament.

To be nominated for the Play It Forward Award, the student athlete must:

• Be a high school or college student who is a member of an athletic team at their school
• Average a minimum of four community volunteer hours per month with an organization or program that gets kids active through sports or physical activity
• Demonstrates initiative and drive, by going beyond expected school responsibilities

The monthly award nominee (two per month—one high school athlete, and one college athlete) will be announced at the beginning of each month. This student-athlete will receive a certificate recognizing their accomplishment as well as media coverage in the local news.

At the annual Oregon Sports Awards in June 2016, the first official Play It Forward Award will be given to one student selected from the 18 athletes recognized throughout the 2015-2016 school year and that student will be recognized at the annual Oregon Sports Awards event at Nike’s World Headquarters.

The first honorary Play It Forward award was given to Marcus Mariota – who inspired Oregonians through his achievements on the field and through his generous commitment of time to kids in Eugene at the Boys and Girls Club of Emerald Valley.

Details about the nomination process and the nomination norm can be found at

The Play It Forward Award Fund

Positive experiences in sport and physical activity are critical to developing healthy kids and building healthy communities. That’s why as part of the Play It Forward Award, presenting sponsors Nike and Providence Health & Services have also donated a combined $50,000 ($30K from Nike and $20K from Providence) to kick start the new Play It Forward Award Fund managed by the Oregon Sports Authority Foundation.

The Play It Forward Award Fund supports non-profit organizations that are providing access to physical activity and sport opportunities for youth throughout Oregon. This funding will support organizations focusing on elementary and middle school youth.

The goal of this fund is to increase access to sport across the state of Oregon, targeting those with the least opportunity. This fund will give ten $5,000 grants, one per month, to deserving organizations throughout the 2015-2016 school year. Over the course of the year we will aim for geographic, ethnic and economic diversity for funded organizations.

The first grant cycle opened on Aug. 24, 2015 with grant applications being accepted on a rolling basis until May 30, 2016. Projects can only apply once during this time period.

Kids Riding Bikes is the Play It Forward Award Fund recipient for September 2015. Kids Riding Bikes engages youth by combining a part of every student’s life – technology – with a physical activity that is appropriate for all skill levels. Single speed bicycles are placed on a computerized trainer that report distance, speed and power on a large screen. This gamification provides instant, real-time feedback. During the four-week course students are able to track their progress and growth.

The small-group format (eight students per session) encourages kids to enjoy the social aspect of working towards a goal together while allowing the freedom of individual achievement. The multi-week format allows participants to build on the previous week in both length and intensity. Kids Riding Bikes Portland is modeled after a successful program in Indianapolis, run by Nine13. The program is effective because it does the following:

• Provides the program at no cost to students.
• Reaches students where they are already located, in existing institutions
• Does not require students to have special equipment or clothes beyond athletic footwear
• Presents physical activity in combination with technology

The program serves Portland Public Schools three days per week and an outlying area including institutions in Washington and Clark County the other two days per week. This program targets Title 1 schools and institutions that serve under-privileged youth.

The Grant Selection Committee is comprised of Nike and Providence Health & Services employees, a representative from the Oregon Sports Awards and a representative from the Oregon Sports Authority Foundation.

Grant guidelines for the Youth Sports Fund can be found at

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