The link between sports participation and the prevention of chronic diseases, including diabetes, obesity, depression and cardiovascular diseases is well-established, especially for African-American and Hispanic females who display lower rates of participation than their peers. By making sports more accessible, Sports 4 Life gives young females the chance to learn the foundational benefits of sports, such as leadership, confidence, self-esteem, and perseverance. PAL allows girls to build character and learn important life lessons through their experiences learning and playing basketball and volleyball and cheerleading.
“The Foundation believes in the transformative power of sports, be it learning how to live a healthy life, how to be a leader or how to work in a team, and is committed to expanding access to sports for girls in diverse communities,” said Angela Hucles, WSF president and two-time Olympic and World Cup medalist in soccer. “Alongside espnW, we take our mission to provide and connect young female athletes with these opportunities seriously—cost, safety or transportation will no longer be an obstacle for girls to get in the game.”
In its first year, the Women’s Sports Foundation and espnW grant will help organizations representing 14 states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to create or expand developmental youth sports programs serving predominately girls of color. Detroit PAL drew close to 3,300 girls to participate in their sports programs in 2014.
“We have seen the positive impact that playing sports has on the health and wellness of girls on a global and national level, as well as overall self-esteem and confidence that carries over into the classroom,” said Laura Gentile, vice president of espnW. “Through this collaboration with Women’s Sports Foundation, espnW has an opportunity to reach young girls who have yet to be introduced to the power of sports and show them how sports can be their toolkit for achieving success in all aspects of life.”
“At ESPN, we’re inspired everyday by the countless stories of women and girls whose lives have been impacted through sports,” added Christine Driessen, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, ESPN, and WSF board member. “We’ve been proud to work hand-in-hand with the Women’s Sports Foundation for many years to help advance the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity.”