Project PLAY (Promoting Literacy from Athletes to Youth) is a literary program focusing on creating a role model relationship between the athletes and the children. The purpose of this program is to show the kids how "cool" reading can be, promote school spirit, and encourage kids to "idolize" the athletes and follow their actions. It is a great program for schools large and small. We started this program in the elementary school, where Bushland athletes would read to the children. The athletes consisted of football players and volleyball players. Cheerleaders from the high school became involved as well. After reading their books, the athletes passed out "trading cards" of themselves while answering questions from the children. A relationship between the players and children began to appear and grow with each line read and every question answered.
Bushland High School did not exist until 2005. It was really great to have this new high school, but a problem arose at the realization that school spirit still did not exist. The student council decided if we were going to tackle the school spirit obstacle, we were going to take a unique approach. We decided to try and influence the future and present students of our school at the same time. The only major requirement to run this program successfully, is the will to do it. On Fridays of home games, eight different athletes went over to the elementary school. The athletes had to maintain a positive image in every public showing after this program because every time the athletes were seen by the kids, they were being “idolized.” They knew that they had now become role models, and they gladly accepted the responsibility.
The community became involved when the children brought their trading cards home and shared
their experience with their parents.This eventually resulted in their family attending the football game on that Friday night. The response to this program was remarkable. Not only did we gain their support in our sporting events; We also taught them how “cool” it is to read. Many children insist on becoming Falcons when they grow up. They want to be involved in sports and come back to read to the children just as was done to them. Essentially making Project P.L.A.Y. an ongoing, successful event. Attendance at home games shot up dramatically. School spirit shot up significantly throughout the area as local businesses started to support the Falcons.