Girls Inc. aims to make sports an integral part of girls’ lives and recognizes that girls have much to gain by early and sustained participation in sports.
Sports participation helps lower the risk of obesity and of associated diseases, decreases feelings of anxiety and depression, and may help students focus in the classroom, increasing time spent on tasks and grades. In addition, girls’ participation in sports has been shown to decrease risky behaviours, including delaying the initiation and frequency of sexual intercourse and reducing the likelihood of a female adolescent getting pregnant.
Research shows that physical activity declines among young people as they move from childhood through the teen years, with girls falling further behind boys in every age group.
In fact, in a 2015 national survey, only about 17% of high school girls indicated they exercised for the recommended amount of time each day in the week before the survey.
Program Description by age group
- Steppingstones (for girls ages 6 to 8) develops motor skills that get girls running, jumping, leaping, twisting, bending, and balancing as they utilize a variety of sports and movement related equipment, including jump ropes, balls, scooters, bats, bowling pins, nets, hoops, and scoops. Girls begin to move more confidently and skillfully, get used to structured physical activity, learn about the positive connection between physical activity and health-related fitness, and accept sport as a legitimate activity for girls and women. The movement skills that girls develop in Steppingstones may later apply to the formal movement in a variety of games, sports, dance, and fitness activities.
- Bridges (for girls ages 9 to 11) picks up where Steppingstones leaves off, enhancing girls’ motor skills while introducing girls to the world of organized sports. Participants focus on the skills and strategies of four sports: softball (throwing, catching, and batting); soccer (kicking and agility); basketball (shooting and teamwork); and tennis (striking and individual competence). Girls learn the concepts of offense, defense, and teamwork, and develop sport-specific skills in a progression that leads to game readiness and provides a foundation for lifelong participation in sports.
- Girls enCourage (for girls ages 12 to 14) is designed to sustain girls’ interest in sports through adolescence by introducing them to nontraditional activities and adventures that go beyond stereotypes and challenge them to set their own personal goals and create their own definitions of success. Participation in program activities promotes movement skills, team cohesion, and health awareness to develop girls’ sense of personal power and worth. As they master new physical techniques and learn to take calculated risks, girls build not only physical strength, but also courage, confidence, self-reliance, and other critical life skills.