Ten-year-old Sadie from Birmingham, Alabama is just like any other average fourth grader. She likes wearing pink and sparkly "girl power" shirts and hanging with her friends. Sadie also happens to have cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Unfortunately, for many girls like Sadie, the options to participate in inclusive after-school physical activity programs are limited.
This month, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation launched its annual #GirlsAre campaign to inspire all girls – no matter their ability level – to celebrate their athleticism. Physical activity and participation in sports are closely linked to many vital physical, social and emotional benefits. However, girls today in the United States are far less likely than boys to achieve recommended amounts of physical activity and actively participate in sports.
The disparity is even greater among girls with disabilities.
According to the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, individuals with disabilities who participate in physical education and extracurricular activities have higher self-esteem, better body image, and higher rates of academic success; and are more likely to graduate from high school and matriculate in college; and experience greater success and more options later in life. It is important for schools to ensure that students of all abilities can fully participate in PE class and all physical activity opportunities.
Thanks to a pilot inclusion program with Girls on the Run and the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability, Sadie is not only participating alongside her peers, but is gaining a valuable boost in self-esteem and the necessary skills to stay active for life.
Lack of access to inclusive physical activity programs prevent girls from engaging in valuable opportunities to be active and develop self-confidence. The #GirlsAre campaign aims to flip the script – inspiring school and afterschool leaders to support every girl in reaching her full potential.
Watch Sadie's full story here.
Visit www.girlsare.org to learn more and add your name to the movement for strong, healthy girls.