A Citywide Impact
Written by: Ashley Pilgrim, Citywide Initiatives Senior Coordinator
This year, we had Chicago’s first ever Fall Day of Play! Girls from all over Chicago gathered at Fleet Fields Lincoln Yards to have a day of sports, health, leadership, and FUN!
On the date of our Fall Day of Play, girls had officially been out of school for six days due to the Chicago Teachers Union strike. Most of our After School sites hadn’t had programming in over a week. However, there was one thing we knew for sure: girls needed to get out of the house and play! They needed a safe space to make friends, take safe risks, and practice their leadership skills. Even though we created the concept of the Fall Day of Play before the strike happened, we figured it would be the perfect opportunity to engage girls that may have not been able to go to school during that time. And just as we thought, on the day of the event our buses were full of excited and eager participants ready to play!
To continue to encourage girls to take safe risks, we introduced some new non-traditional sports! Chicago Goaltimate came and led activities in Goaltimate, a sport similar to ultimate frisbee. Lincoln Park Rugby Football Club also came and taught rugby, a sport that they were a little more familiar with. One of my favorite parts of the day was seeing the participants both try and succeed at sports they never thought they would. The Girls in the Game staff then led some exercises in communication and the girls loved getting a chance to learn new skills. Helping facilitate the event, we had some pretty cool guests! Our very own citywide Teen Squad coached the elementary and middle school participants. High school girls from all over the city came to support the guests and staff in leading rotations. Chicago Police Department’s Women’s Soccer team joined us to help with transition games and warm-up activities. All hands were definitely on deck, making this a successful event!
One of the most exciting things about our citywide programming is the ability to see how Girls in the Game can impact girls at any point in their journey through girlhood. The elementary school participants love to play, enjoying any activity as long as it involves movement. They are just beginning to experience the power of play, learning who they are, and getting comfortable taking safe risks like making a new friend or trying a new sport. The middle school girls thrive in difficult discussions about navigating their new challenges and are beginning to develop the grit, leadership, and confidence that many sports foster. Teen participants are beginning to hone in on their leadership skills, getting trained to lead programming sessions for younger participants and
taking advantage of opportunities to continue to develop the skills like leadership and confidence that they’ve learned throughout. It’s inspiring to see, to say the least.
So if you haven’t gotten to experience our citywide programming, I’d recommend it. As someone trying to impact the next generation of girls, I love getting opportunities to see Girls in the Game impact the whole girl, long term. If you’re a girl, and you missed the Fall Day of Play, make sure you make it to the next one! We’ll help get you off the sidelines and into the game.