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National Girls & Women In Sports Day 2023



Today is about celebration and awareness.

As a mother of two athletic girls, and a former athlete myself, this day has a special place in my heart.I started skating pretty much as soon as I could stand & competed at 3 USFSA National Championships as a pair skater (1992, 1993, & 1995).


It is disheartening to see the stats among young girls in sports:

43% ‘sporty’ girls disengage from sport following primary school

68% fear of being judged

61% lack confidence

47% pressure of schoolwork

43% don’t feel safe (1)

  • According to Canadian Women and Sports, 1:3 girls drop out of sports by their late teens vs. 1:10 for boys. (2)

  • Australian Youth Confidence Report (2019) declared that by 17 years old 50% of girls drop out entirely (3)

  • Girls drop out at double the rate of boys by the age of 14 (4)

The drop out rates are attributed to so many factors:

Lack of access & opportunities

Safety and transportation issues

Societal pressures

Lack of support and funding leading to poor experiences

Resources/Cost

Lack of positive role models (5)

For me, skating was so much more than my scores and medals. It provided an outlet when I badly needed one. It forced me to take responsibility, have accountability, and be punctual (well … most of the time)! I also learned how to juggle many aspects of my life; keeping up with schoolwork, making time for family obligations and friends all while participating in sports. I learned how to work as a team and develop characteristics such as dependability, dedication, grit, & perseverance.



Grit and perseverance have been the most important characteristics that have carried over into my adult life. They have provided me the ability to fall down, brush myself off, get up, and keep going. I learned how to recover from failures with grace, and developed the ability to separate a failed action with being a failure.


But let’s not forget about the life-long friendships and ever lasting memories I have with my partner (teammates) and friends. I only hope that my girls get have these experiences as well.



Building awareness & providing programs that give access, exposure and availability for young girls are imperative if we want to reverse these trends.

My daughter participated in Girls on the Run in 4th and 5th grade & I can say firsthand how it was such a positive impactful experience for her, as well as us as parents. It was certainly was influential in her making varsity cross country as a freshman, but also the desire to give back and volunteer to help girls in sports programs.


Another local program is Girls Play Sports (GPS) here in Evanston. GPS provides strong, positive role models and provide a safe environment, as well as exposure and accessibility to a variety of sports and topics for girls and women in sports.


I encourage parents and children to explore these programs:


Or help support girls in sports programs: Donate to Girls on the Run: donate@girlsontherun.org



REFERENCES:
1. Women in Sports. “More than 1 Million Teenage Girls Fall ‘Out Of Love’ With Sport'. Womeninsport.org. Mar 2022. https://womeninsport.org/press-release/more-than-1-million-teenage-girls-fall-out-of-love-with-sport/

2. Butler, Signa. “1 in 3 girls drops out of sports by late teens, study finds”. CBC Sports. Jun 11, 2020. https://www.cbc.ca/sports/youth-sports-teenagers-female-male-participation-1.5607509

3. Davino, Bianca. “Why Are Young Women Dropping Out Of Sports More Rapidly Than Men?”. Refinery29. Jun 20, 2021. https://www.refinery29.com/amp/en-gb/why-young-women-drop-out-sport

4. Women in Sports. “More than 1 Million Teenage Girls Fall ‘Out Of Love’ With Sport'. Womeninsport.org. Mar 2022. https://womeninsport.org/press-release/more-than-1-million-teenage-girls-fall-out-of-love-with-sport/

5. Women sports foundation. “Do You Know the Factors Influencing Girls’ Participation in Sports?”. Women’s sports foundation.org. 2023. https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/do-you-know-the-factors-influencing-girls-participation-in-sports/



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