Always and Walmart are taking action, in partnership with the Women’s Sports Foundation, to help girls stay in sports by highlighting the important life skills that come from continued participation through puberty. To further rally society to #KeepHerPlaying, they are continuing their partnership with Olympic gold medal gymnast Laurie Hernandez and enlisting social media influencers to share firsthand accounts of how sports have had a positive impact on their lives.
Research has shown that nearly half of girls in the U.S. drop out of sports during puberty and an engaged support system plays a critical role in ensuring girls feel encouraged to stay in sports.
“I am grateful for the continuing support from my family and coaches in making my most recent choice to withdraw for the final selection process for the Tokyo Olympics due to my knee injury. Without their encouragement and the perseverance I learned in the gym, it would have been difficult to come to this decision,” says Hernandez. “I am determined to keep training and excited to continue my partnership with Always and Walmart to encourage girls to stay in sports, so they too, can develop the important skills that will help become whoever they want to be in life.”
The survey, conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by Always, found that 66% of women who played sports during puberty credit it for helping them become who they are today and nearly 75% of people believe playing sports during puberty has a positive impact on future career success.
To help provide access and opportunity to puberty-aged girls, Always have awarded a total of $500,000 in financial grants to organizations and schools across the country that provide access, opportunity and encouragement for puberty-aged girls in sports.
The organizations and schools were selected in partnership with the Women’s Sports Foundation, a national organization that believes one of the most meaningful ways to make an impact in the world of sports is to foster sustainable change in local communities that benefits current and future generations of female athletes. The #KeepHerPlaying Youth Grants will be used in a variety of ways to create equitable and accessible spaces for girls up to the age of 18, from renovating facilities and upgrading equipment to enhancing accessibility for those with varying abilities and expanding services to reach more girls in the community.
“Tennis is a sport that has high economic barriers to entry and is often perceived to be an upper-class sport,” says Sloane Stephens, the Founder of Sloane Stephens Foundation in Studio City, California. “Thanks to the #KeepHerPlaying youth grant, we will be able to start eradicating these barriers so that our girls can be exposed to the benefits of a lifelong sport. With support from these funds, our year-round programs will continue to operate without gaps to prevent any vulnerable periods of downtime, and we will be able to construct permanent lighting on court to improve safety and accessibility.”
Listed below are the non-profit schools and non-profit organizations who have been selected to receive a portion of the #KeepHerPlaying Youth Grant:
- Angel City Sports, Los Angeles, CA (Goalball and Para-Rowing)
- Biltmore Preparatory Academy, Phoenix, AZ (Softball)
- Boys and Girls Club of Benton County, Bentonville, AR (Volleyball, Basketball and Flag Football)
- Challenged Athletes Foundation, San Diego, CA (Adaptive Track & Field)
- First Tee of Northwest Arkansas, Lowell, AR (Golf)
- Hudson River Community Sailing, New York, NY (Sailing)
- Memphis Inner City Rugby, Memphis, TN (Rugby)
- MS 363 Lady Lions, Bronx, NY (Basketball)
- Sloane Stephens Foundation, Studio City, CA (Tennis)
- Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation, New York, NY/Detroit, MI (Gymnastics)
To learn more about the girls positively impacted by the grants, visit Walmart.com/Always.