Empowering Girls to Get in the Game

On a sweltering day in the heart of Chicago last summer, over 120 young girls were having way too much fun playing in a local park to feel the heat. They were shooting hoops and kicking goals; performing killer dance moves and yoga poses; and developing new friendships with coaches and each other. For these girls, primarily from low-income and minority backgrounds, this summer camp was something most had not experienced before, and one they were relishing, despite the soaring temperatures.

Pioneers had a hand in helping these girls experience this unique summer camp by donating over $3,500? to the Chicago-based Girls in the Game organization in 2017. The grant supported two of the organization’s programs, the Sports and Leadership Summer Camp and the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.

The Girls in the Game organization is dedicated to helping every girl find her voice, discover her strengths and lead with confidence through exciting sports, health, and leadership programs. Since 1995, the organization has empowered more than 45,000 minority, low-income girls to get in the game with programs to develop healthy habits, self-confidence, and crucial life skills.

Sports and Leadership Camp

Over the course of four weeks last summer, the Girls in the Game’s sports and leadership camp brought 124 girls together in Chicago to make new friends and get pumped up about exercise and healthy living. Some of the highlights of the program included:

  • Instruction in multiple sports and fitness activities such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, golf, tennis, lacrosse, floor hockey, kickboxing, dance, yoga and even ultimate Frisbee.
  • Appearances by guest youth coaches from Chicago’s professional sports teams, including the Blackhawks, the Bulls, and the White Sox.
  • Education workshops and team-building activities focused on nutrition and body image; peer pressure, communication and self-advocacy; healthy relationships; drug and alcohol abuse; and setting and achieving goals. Social media literacy was also a talking point.
  • Time to relax and cool down by the pool!

And, finally, the girls spent a week at an overnight camp outside Chicago, where they put their team-building skills to work and celebrated all the lifestyle initiatives they learned all summer.

The $2,500 grant from Pioneers allowed three more girls to attend the summer camp program in 2017! The grant helped cover the registration, workshop and transportation fees for each girl. The continued partnership between the Pioneers and Girls in the Game guarantees that more girls get an opportunity to make healthy choices now, to help them grow into active and strong young women.

Juvenile Justice Program

Helping troubled young females at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) is another initiative of Girls in the Game. And Pioneers is again on board to help support the Juvenile Justice Program, a sports, nutrition and leadership program for teen girls detained at the facility.

In 2017, the program helped 66 teenagers, who met weekly to participate in fitness activities and health and leadership workshops to build the social, leadership and self-care tools needed once they are released. A grant from the Pioneers helps fund the program so these troubled teens can grow as individuals and leaders who can promote change in their lives and communities.

In addition to the ongoing sports and nutrition workshops, the program also includes:

  • Leadership interviews: Residents meet and interview diverse panels of female professionals to discuss careers paths and backgrounds. These interviews are inspiring, informational and serve to positively influence the teens’ future plans.
  • Family participation workshops: Families visit the center to engage in some of the highlights of the program. Teens assist in leading workshops and take pride in sharing what they’ve learned from Girls in the Game.
  • Outreach program: To support these young teens as they leave the facility and transition back into real life, monthly fitness and professional-development workshops are held at various offsite locations.

The Juvenile Justice program is an avenue for these troubled girls to strengthen their self-confidence and build better relationships. In fact, 100% of the participants indicated that Girls in the Game can and will be a resource for them once they leave the facility!

Pioneers is pleased to support to the Girls in the Game program over the past few years. As always, we are committed to helping programs like this one continue to make positive changes in the lives of those in their communities.