Young people are struggling with emotional and social well-being. From feeling they have little or no control over their lives to missing out on special moments to a decline in academic performance and athletic participation, and even the ability to stay connected with friends, research shows that the effects of the pandemic are vast, multifaceted and lingering.
Linked with numerous health, social, emotional and educational benefits, physical activity can be the answer. Yet, even before the pandemic, fewer than one in four school-aged youth met the recommended physical activity guidelines. The challenge in meeting these recommendations is even greater for girls who drop out of sport at twice the rate of boys by the age of 13.
Join GENYOUth in our commitment to Root4Her
As part of our long-standing commitment to support students’ participation in physical activity – which is an essential part of our mission to create healthier school communities — we rally to develop a school-based program supported by partners who value the importance of girls’ physical, social and emotional well-being along with the value of fueling one’s body with good nutrition.
GENYOUth’s Root4Her program, designed especially for middle school girls, is centered on providing resources, support, strategies, and motivation to make movement an important part of girls’ quest for social, emotional, nutritional and physical good health.
Root4Her addresses a critical issue – Girls’ participation in physical activity is particularly challenged as they move into middle and high school, with low self-confidence, body image, and lack of encouragement and support among the top reasons girls phase out from both competitive and non-competitive activity alike.
- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that less than a quarter (24%) of children ages 6 to 17 are participating in the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
- It is proven that students who are physically active tend to have better grades, school attendance, cognitive performance (e.g., memory), and classroom behaviors (e.g., on-task behavior). CDC
- Between ages 5 and 10, girls and boys participate in physical activity at similarly high rates, but by the age of 13, girls drop out of physical activity and sports at twice the rate of boys. Women’s Sports Foundation
- The situation is even more pronounced for young girls in underserved communities and young women of color who have less access to athletic programs, more familial responsibilities, and engage in less physical activity. Women’s Sports Foundation
GENYOUth’s “State of the Student” Physical Activity Omnibus survey of teens (500 girls/500 boys) revealed that teens give themselves low grades on physical activity.
- Fewer than half (47%) report being happy with their current level of physical activity.
- Girls (43%) are less likely to be happy with how active they currently are than boys (52%).
- Teens want more alternative, less intimidating physical activities.
- They are interested in more options before/during/after school (33%), opportunities at their skill level (32%) and activities that are fun/inclusive (31% overall; 35% for girls vs. 28% for boys.)
- Teens’ sense of well-being goes beyond physical activity. 55% cite nutrition, and 47% say mindfulness/sleep, as most important to health and well-being
What’s Stopping Girls from Being (and Staying) Active?
GENYOUth conducted a series of qualitative and quantitative research efforts with PE teachers and school administrators representing the country’s top school districts, including some of the largest urban school districts from across the United States, which revealed six major barriers keeping for girls from being active:
- Lack of confidence in skills and ability.
- Concerns about physical appearance and body image.
- Inadequate encouragement, support, and resources at home.
- Intimidating nature of competitive programs.
- Limited exposure to female role models.
- Work or other commitments outside of school.
- Absence of safe places to play.
- Lack of adequate equipment and knowledge on how to properly use it.
More Support. More Attention. More Physical Activity Opportunities with Social and Emotional Support for Girls.
Do you have a commitment to fostering the health and wellness of girls? Become a GENYOUth Root4Her partner!
Your contribution as a supporting partner will allow GENYOUth to provide resources to schools to implement customized programs and curriculum to enhance the physical, social, emotional, nutritional well-being and self-confidence of girls in schools across the country. Help us Root4Her!
For more information contact: Lauren Izzo, GENYOUth’s Vice President of Programs at Lauren.Izzo@Genyouthnow.org.