Play Every Day

Movement Matters for the Mind.

Join Madison Public Schools Foundation and Wesley Matthews, Memorial High Class of 2005 and current NBA star, in our effort to improve the lives of students through physical activity.

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Wesley Matthews on the power of play.

About Play Every Day

Working hard so kids can play.

We’re on a mission to remove barriers that stand in the way of kids getting active, from outdated equipment to participation fees districtwide, spurred by Wesley’s generous gift of $50,000. On top of that initial gift, he's also going to match an additional $50,000 in donations.

Why? Because it’s proven that playing – whether that’s organized sports, physical education class, or recess – has a positive impact on students’ well-being. And today, that’s needed more than ever, with mental health issues on the rise and students up against factors out of their control.

The Madison Metropolitan School District will use your gift through our Teacher Support Network. Their focus: To purchase equipment, cover student fees, and support programs directly related to physical activity that benefits ALL students. Let’s foster their future together.

About Wesley

Getting active is for everyone.

Wesley Matthews understands the impact sports, physical education and recess can have on a young person. From finding new passions – Wesley discovered his love for soccer in Phys. Ed class – to reducing stress and learning how to problem solve, getting active improves students’ well-being both in and out of the classroom.

Committed to investing in Madison’s youth, his alma mater and the community, Wesley has partnered with Madison Public Schools Foundation to give Madison schools additional resources to ensure students have more opportunities to play every day. That partnership includes an initial $50,000 gift, plus another $50,000 donation match, dedicated to supporting the resources our schools need today.

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"It's our responsibility to be the pillars of hope, stability and safety to our youth! To give them positive encouragement, reinforcement, guidance and, above all, an environment that will enable their gifts and talents to shape our society and our world for the better through the classroom and sports. My hope is that you all can see the power our youth holds and help us positively impact kids' lives."

Wesley Matthews

Why Play Every Day?

The power of play.

Health is Wealth

It’s proven when kids are active, it improves their overall well-being and school performance.

Well-rounded is Wonderful

Being active doesn’t always mean playing organized sports. We want students to realize finding time to play will help all aspects of their lives, even if they don’t dream of being a professional athlete.

Access to Activity

A lot of factors can prevent kids from getting active, whether that’s being unable to pay necessary fees or not being able to try a sport that appeals to them. We need to provide the resources that give them the confidence to get involved.

Getting active really does make a difference.

Numerous studies show the impact physical activity has on our kids' well-being.
*Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Power of Physical Education

  • Increased likelihood of staying active into adulthood
  • Improved grades and standardized test scores
  • Staying on task in class

Real Impact of Recess

  • Improved memory and attention
  • Better ability to share and negotiate
  • Deeper social interactions

Help students find joy in play.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is this initiative for?

Play. Every. Day. It’s something more of us should do, no matter our age. But it’s incredibly important for school-aged children and teens. Physical activity plays a significant role in improving not only a kid’s physical fitness but their mental health, too.

For that reason, we’re working to give every kid an equal opportunity to play, whether that’s through physical education, recess or organized school sports. This initiative, spurred by a generous gift from Wesley Matthews, a Madison Memorial alum and NBA star, will supplement school budgets to remove barriers, such as narrow offerings and outdated or missing equipment throughout the Madison Metropolitan School District.

Why is this initiative necessary?

Our students today face more pressure than ever. From school to friends, socioeconomic challenges and social media, kids are asked to do more and more. Additionally, the effects of the pandemic, from mental health to social development, continue to rise. Physical activity, whether it’s sports or play, can help ease those burdens, giving them an outlet that strengthens friendships, alleviates anxiety and builds problem-solving skills.

If I make a donation, who does it help?

A gift that supports Play Every Day is one that helps every student in the district. We’ll ensure students have the equipment and access to programs needed to help them get and stay active.

How will you determine which schools get support?

All MMSD schools will receive support from Play Every Day.

What type of equipment will be purchased?

Each school will determine what to purchase based on their specific needs. It could range from recess equipment to new balls for physical education class. It must be used on items, programs or fees associated with physical activity and wellness.

Is this for organized sports or physical education class and recess?

Play Every Day is designed to make it easier for all students to find joy in getting and staying active. Therefore, the emphasis is on expanding access and opportunities through physical education, recess and organized sports.

How much money are you trying to raise?

Currently, our goal is $250,000.

Is there a matching component?

Yes. Wesley Matthews has committed to matching up to $50,000, along with his original gift of $50,000.

Who will distribute the funds?

This initiative is part of the Teacher Support Network program.Resources will be distributed in partnership with the district, principals and teachers, ensuring the most direct impact is made for each of the schools.

How long is this initiative active?

With your support, we’ll make our initial goal of $250,000 by September 1, 2022. We plan to distribute funds to schools during the 2022-23 school year.