Mayor's Office Press Release

City of Houston Adopts Children's Bill of Rights in Sports

May 4, 2022 -- The City of Houston has become the first government internationally to adopt the Children’s Bill of Rights in Sports, an initiative to ensure full opportunity and participation of children to play sports. The Mayor’s Office of Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence (MOHT&DV) announced its plans at the Project Play Summit today in Washington D.C., the nation’s premier event for leaders building healthy children and communities through sports.

Developed by the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program through its Project Play initiative, the Children’s Bill of Rights in Sports has been adopted by more than 130 international and national organizations, including UNICEF USA, premier sports associations, sports businesses, and non-government officials.

Mayor Sylvester Turner is the first government leader to adopt the Children’s Bill of Rights in Sports, which aligns with several of the administration’s goals, including a human rights strategy developed for the City’s bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup and Houston’s action plan to be a UNICEF Child Friendly City(CFCI).

“Houston is proud to be an inclusive and equitable city focused on protecting and enhancing the rights of our most treasured asset, our children and future leaders,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “We are proud to implement the Children’s Bill of Rights in Sports in Houston because it underscores the positive physical and mental health benefits needed for young people to thrive and learn.”

The City, through strategic partnerships made in the MOHT&DV, Mayor’s Office of Education, and the Houston Parks Department, will present the initiative to 30+ local organizations who can put the Bill of Rights in Sports into practice. The organizations may also be eligible for grant funds to implement new programs and services. The Bill of Rights in Sports includes eight rights for children:

  • To play sports.
  • To safe and healthy environments.
  • To qualified program leaders.
  • To developmentally appropriate play.
  • To share in the planning and delivery of their activities.
  • To an equal opportunity for personal growth.
  • To be treated with dignity.
  • To enjoy themselves.

Tom Farrey, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program, led the creation of the Bill of Rights.

“Imagine a future in which every child in Houston has access to the physical, mental, social and emotional benefits that a well-delivered sports experience can provide,” Farrey said. “The City of Houston should be commended for its leadership in creating a platform to pursue that vision, by not just endorsing but operationalizing the Children’s Bill of Rights in Sports. It’s a historic move that holds the potential to transform the lives of youth, from all backgrounds and abilities.”

As part of the City’s bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, Mayor’s Office of Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence chaired the Human Rights Sub-Committee and submitted a detailed plan that advances over 70 human rights opportunities based on an intensive two-step stakeholder engagement process with over 100 local, national and international stakeholders. “We all know the important role sports play in the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of our children,” said Kenneth Allen, Director, Houston Parks and Recreation Department.  “The City of Houston’s plan to implement a Children’s Bill of Rights in Sports is an important signal that young people deserve and need access to safe play spaces and leisure, wherever they live.  The Parks and Recreation Department is proud to be a part of this effort.”

For more information about this initiative or any of our other initiatives, please contact Minal Patel Davis, Director, Mayor’s Office of Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence & Chair of the Human Rights Sub-Committee for the Houston 2026 Men’s FIFA World Cup Bid Committee, (o): 832-393-0977, (c): 832-596-9965, minal.davis@houstontx.gov.

Additional information on the Children’s Bill of Rights in Sports is available at: https://www.aspenprojectplay.org/childrens-rights-and-sports.