GO! RUN: CLOSING THE GENDER GAP IN GIRLS PARTICIPATION IN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Girls running for a GO! Run event.Written by Margaux McWatt, Communications Coordinator, Ever Active Schools

Consistent participation in physical activity has so many benefits: it boosts your self-esteem and confidence; improves your overall health, well-being and academic performance; as well as gives you the opportunity and the inclination to learn new skills.*1 But, girls don’t always get these benefits.

According to several studies and surveys, there is a large gender gap in female participation in sport and physical activity. Check out some stats exploring this gap:

  • Only 8% of girls met the recommendations of the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines.
  • Only 1/10 high school girls enrol in optional physical education classes.
  • Only 2% of girls aged 12-17 are getting enough physical activity. *1

In an effort to address and work towards changing these stats, Ever Active Schools, Jumpstart and the Alberta Medical Association Youth Run Club have launched GO! Run: A girls only run club developed to foster an increase in girls’ participation in sport and physical activity.

The club coordinators, Hayley Degaust and Katie Mahon, hosted coach workshops in early fall with a large focus on promoting female participation and as of today, 18 schools have signed up to start a GO! Run club.

GO! RUN HAS RECRUITED POWERFUL FEMALES IN THE SPORT WORLD TO BECOME AMBASSADORS AND A VOICE OF INSPIRATION THAT THE GIRLS CAN IDENTIFY WITH AND LOOK UP TO.

The GO! Run Ambassador team includes student athlete at Concordia College: Lannie Houle, Head Coach of the Women’s Hockey team at Grant MacEwan University: Lindsay McAlpine; Rugby Coach at the University of Lethbridge: Ashley Steacy; and Sports Reporter/Anchor at Global News Edmonton: Quinn Phillips.

Messages from the Ambassadors promote the value of tenacity and pushing beyond your fears, how sport and physical activity build confidence, competence and life-long friendships, as well as the importance of females in sport for the better of society as a whole. Check out preview clips of each Ambassador here, and stay tuned for an Ambassador video featuring all four impactful females.

A large factor in addressing and trying to close the gender gap is identifying and helping females move past the barriers that are halting them in their tracks. Some of these include:

  • Female invisibility – media representations and lack of role models in sport
  • The male-dominated culture of sport
  • Attitudes and prejudices about sexuality
  • Parental and adult influence
  • Lack of confidence
  • Body image
  • Clothing & equipment
  • Personal Safety
  • Access to facilities

To read more about barriers and to learn recommendations about overcoming them, click here.

It’s imperative that girls have strong role models, a safe place to build their confidence & self-esteem, while focusing on fun and age-appropriate skill development, allowing them to participate in physical activity on their own terms. GO! Run strives to be that kind of support for every student, creating a space and culture of encouragement, celebration and acceptance. To accompany this program, a handbook was created to highlight data, surveys and stats addressing the need for more female participation, along with great conversation starters, overcoming barriers, fun activities, top 10 lists and more.

To learn more about GO! Run, to get access to the handbook and to register your school, visit: www.amayouthrunclub.com/go-run-1/

Ever Active Schools would like to acknowledge Jumpstart’s commitment to healthy school communities and extend a sincere ‘Thank You’ for helping make this program possible through funding and support.

References:

  1. The Importance of Sport & Physical Activity for Women & Girls. http://www.caaws.ca/
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