Program spreads the joy of sports to children

Children from the Boys and Girls Club having fun at a Project PLAY-sponsored field day event. (Photo courtesy of Luke Testa)

After participating in the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program, an organization dedicated to building leadership skills in young people, a group of youth ambassadors from New Hampshire teamed up to develop a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving children an opportunity to play sports via financial sponsorship and equipment donation.

The nonprofit, now known as Project PLAY, works with practically every youth organization in the city of Manchester, New Hampshire, and has so far given away more than 6,000 pieces of sports equipment to children in the state.

The current Project PLAY team consists of some high school volunteers and two college students, Luke Testa, a sophomore English major at St. Anselm College in Manchester, and Kate Aiken, a sophomore double majoring in business and eco-gastronomy at University of New Hampshire in Durham.

Project PLAY has so far sponsored more than 200 children to play organized sports by directly paying for their registration fees when their families couldn’t afford to.

Testa grew up in Manchester, the biggest city in New Hampshire with a population of a little more than 110,000. He said he has greatly benefited from playing sports his whole life — teamwork, fitness, etc. — but noticed a lot of children in his hometown were unable to because their parents couldn’t afford to pay for proper equipment or team participation fees.

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