By Medicine Hat News on October 11, 2017.
The sporting community in Medicine Hat has always been what I would consider strong, with multiple factors contributing like our mild, favorable climate for outdoor activities, well-maintained recreational facilities, and a keen base of committed volunteer coaches and administrators.
Building on that strength means addressing one of the nationally-recognized gaps in organized sport: increasing participation by females. If you are part of one of our many sports organizations in Medicine Hat, check out the following list of ideas to increase participation of females in physical activity published by the Canadian Association for the
Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS):
1. Emphasize Fun and Social Aspects
Physical activity should be a fun experience. Emphasize participation over skill; celebrate personal bests and accomplishments.
2. Introduce a Variety of Physical Activities
Girls and young women are often unaware of the many physical activities available to them. Promote the diversity of opportunities within your community and add some excitement to your program by visiting pools, arenas, courts, climbing gyms and parks.
3. Allow Input into Program Design
Value the interests and ideas of girls and young women. Ask what sports and physical activities they are interested in. Create opportunities for them to plan and make decisions. Taking the time to incorporate some of their ideas will increase their interest and contribute to their overall experiences of sport and physical activity
4. Provide Female-Only Opportunities
Many females feel uncomfortable or are restricted from participating in front of males. Provide girls and young women with opportunities to participate in physical activity in their own way.
5. Create a Positive Environment
Creating a positive environment means making sure girls and young women feel safe and supported. Think about your own and others’ actions, and listen to participants’ concerns and needs. Be considerate of language, visual images, and the behaviour of others.
6. Target Similar Age Groupings
Targeting a narrow age group will make programming to specific interests easier. Create opportunities for young women to mentor or adopt leadership roles in programs for girls.
7. Teach the Basics
Helping girls and young women to develop their skills will increase their confidence and interest in pursuing life-long physical activity.
8. Be a Positive Role Model
Be a role model, for girls and young women, colleagues and parents. Try new activities, demonstrate healthy, active living, and respect participants’ needs, interests and experiences.
Incorporate food whenever you can. Pizza parties are instant successes. Talk about the links between food and healthy development, or plan a session on healthy eating.
10. Give a Choice of Clothing And Music
Allowing girls and young women to wear their choice of safe clothing will increase their participation. Music adds to the creation of a welcoming environment.
FAME has a number of programs on the go that address a few of these points. Girls on the Move starts on October 7 and our first Get Benched this year will happen in late October with the Medicine Hat College Lady Rattlers Soccer team. Visit http://www.famemedicinehat.ca for info.
Terra Petryshyn is the Recreation Program Coordinator for the City of Medicine Hat and a member of the Females in Action Moving and Empowering Committee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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