Keep­ing girls in sports ac­tiv­i­ties im­por­tant for over­all health

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Opinion - BY DESIREA AGAR, AB HEALTH SER­VICES

Cana­dian Tire Jump­start Char­i­ties in part­ner­ship with the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Women in Sport (CAAWS) ( and the Coach­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada ( have de­vel­oped an on­line learn­ing re­source called Keep­ing Girls in Sport.

Keep­ing Girls in Sport is an on­line re­source that teaches coaches and youth ac­tiv­ity lead­ers how to cre­ate safe and re­spect­ful en­vi­ron­ments for girls and ul­ti­mately help girls stay en­rolled and en­gaged in sport and phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity. You can learn more by watch­ing the video “Keep­ing Girls in Sport: Coach­ing Re­source” on YouTube.

This on­line re­source has been cre­ated be­cause the sta­tis­tics for girls’ par­tic­i­pa­tion in sport and phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity show low par­tic­i­pa­tion rates and high dropout rates. Did you know that if a girl isn’t par­tic­i­pat­ing in sport by the age of 10 there is only a 10 per cent chance she will be­phys­i­cally ac­tive at age 25? What’s more is that even if girls are in­volved in sport be­fore age 10, there is a sharp de­cline in par­tic­i­pa­tion when they en­ter their teen years. Their over­all par­tic­i­pa­tion drops by 22 per cent and school sport par­tic­i­pa­tion drops by al­most 26 per cent.

Yet we know that there are many ben­e­fits to par­tic­i­pat­ing in sport, re­cre­ation and phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity. So, what can we do to sup­port girls’ par­tic­i­pa­tion in sport and re­cre­ation? CAAWS has some sug­ges­tions:

• En­cour­age the “next gen­er­a­tion” of fe­male en­thu­si­asts by sup­port­ing a sport en­vi­ron­ment that is di­verse, wel­com­ing and fun pro­fes­sional po­si­tions and re­lated roles

• Launch and pro­mote free and low-cost com­mu­nity fe­male-only sport op­por­tu­ni­ties such as open houses or try-it days to ex­pose di­verse fe­males to new sports in a safe and sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment.

• Fo­cus on fun, plea­sure and chal­lenge of par­tic­i­pa­tion, con­sid­er­ing the age and abil­i­ties of par­tic­i­pants

• Sched­ule time for sport and phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, rec­og­niz­ing the im­por­tance of sport par­tic­i­pa­tion for phys­i­cal, men­tal and so­cial health

• Help build girls’ con­fi­dence in sport by fo­cus­ing on fun­da­men­tal move­ment skills such as kick­ing, run­ning, jump­ing, catch­ing and throw­ing, be­fore in­tro­duc­ing fun­da­men­tal sport-spe­cific skills

• En­cour­age girls to join and con­tinue to play, coach and of­fi­ci­ate a va­ri­ety of sports from youth into their teens and adult­hood

• Sup­port elite fe­male ath­letes by at­tend­ing and watch­ing events, and fol­low­ing ath­letes on so­cial me­dia.

• Pro­mote and share fe­male sport news sto­ries that fo­cus on ath­letic skills, healthy liv­ing cham­pi­ons, ac­com­plish­ments

For a full list of sug­ges­tions please see the CAAWS re­port on the sta­tus of fe­male sport in Canada ti­tled Women in Sport: Fu­el­ing a Life­time of Par­tic­i­pa­tion. Fur­ther re­sources to sup­port ef­fec­tive pro­gram­ming for girls can be found at

Desirea Agar is a health pro­mo­tion co­or­di­na­tor at Medicine Hat Com­mu­nity Health Ser­vices and can be reached at

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