I am one of the lucky ones. Shortly after I turned 3 years old, my parents strapped me to a pair of skis and sent me off to take lessons. In the summer months, I did ballet, gymnastics, and soccer and then at the age of 8, I joined a competitive swim team. Inevitably, my love for the sport grew into a commitment – one that had me rising before the sun at 4:30 am to go to morning practice, sometimes three times a week, and then returning back to the pool for another practice every day after school. Through high school, often the most influential years of life, I was completely consumed by and dedicated to swimming. I had enough time for school work, practices and the occasional social outing with friends.
Through swimming, I gained invaluable life lessons – I learned how to commit, make sacrifices, set goals and fight to reach them, accept failure as an opportunity to push harder, and understand that I am responsible for my own victories and no one else. I gained confidence in my abilities, grew physically and mentally stronger by being part of a supportive community and developed deep and long-lasting friendships with other teammates. I learned about nutrition, the body, and to this day, I feel very confident in a weight room. It was the absolute best opportunity I could have been given, and I am still so grateful for all the sacrifices that my family made to offer me the gift of sport.
Extending the Benefits of Sport to Everyone
Not everyone is so lucky. Not everyone has the means, the support system, or the availability to attend sports programs. Our non-profit event, Sun Tribe, is just one step toward changing that for women through the sport of kitesurfing. There are also countless other organizations around the world that are dedicated to changing lives through sport.
A Globe and Mail article, titled ‘Sports Programs Changing Lives of Girls in Developing Countries’, tells the story of how at 8-years old, Kusum Kumari, a little girl in rural India, took part in a non-profit soccer program for girls. After attending the program, she began taking school more seriously, thinking more about her future, and is now teaching other girls in the soccer program. She is also taking courses to become a social worker to inspire other girls in the area. According to Katja Iversen, Chief Executive of Women Deliver, the global health organization that organized the program, “When girls have the opportunity to play sports, they also get the power to change their lives.”
Another foundation, appropriately named Sports Change Lives, whole-heartedly aims “to change the lives of disadvantaged and disengaged young people through the medium of sport by building self-belief, achieving success and shaping a person’s future.” Around the world, even schools are using sport to improve student lives. For example, Wexham School in Slough, United Kingdom swapped books for sports equipment for seven weeks in a new sporting program. According to this news update, the aim was to use sport to improve self-esteem, help kids better communicate, and break down social boundaries. The results were tenfold.
From Immediate Health Benefits to Transferable Skills
A simple search on Google will show you that there are endless groups and organizations encouraging positive change in the lives of people around the world through sport. And it’s no wonder, the benefits are far-reaching. This 3-minute Ted Talk summarize them all very nicely:
Almost immediately, sports can help improve an individual’s health and confidence, but the many learned skills also become transferable assets later in life. A 2002 survey commissioned by Mass-Mutual Financial Group and Oppenheimer Funds of more than 400 senior women executives found that:
–> More than 80 percent played organized team sports growing up.
–> 86 percent say sports helped them to be more disciplined.
–> 69 percent note sports assisted in the development of their leadership skills.
–> 68 percent say sports helped them deal with failure.
–> 59 percent believe sports gave them a competitive edge.
Results from another study conducted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the United States concluded that of the 21,000 college students surveyed: “Ninety percent of student-athletes credit their college athletics experience with having a positive impact on increasing their personal responsibility, honing their teamwork skills, and enhancing their work ethic. High percentages also reported that college sports has had a positive effect on their leadership skills, their values and ethics, self-confidence, time management, understanding of diverse cultures, study skills and commitment to volunteerism.”
Your Contribution Matters
Countless studies mimic the same results. Numerous organizations have shown how their programs can directly and positively impact the lives of youth. The challenge lies in extending the opportunity to those who would never otherwise have it, initiating a global movement to spread awareness on the impact of sports, and gaining the support for programs that reach the people who need it most.
Through Sun Tribe, our efforts are geared at just that, and we need your help. We need your support. If you have $5, $10, $20, your contribution can help us extend the proven benefits of sport to girls. Your contribution can help bring more hope, more determination, more confidence and more self-love into their lives which can ripple into the lives of their families, communities and perhaps, (as dreamers always like to think), maybe the world. It starts here: https://www.generosity.com/sports-fundraising/help-girls-reach-new-heights-through-kitesurfing
“Sport allows girls and women to dream. Sport teaches them to set goals. It encourages them to train hard and to fail – and how to get up again. Sport teaches us how to work with others, trust one’s teammates, and believe in oneself,” wrote the International Working Group on Women and Sport in an article titled ‘Seeing Behind and Beyond Trophies’. I could not have said it better.