I’ve always had a passion for women’s and girl’s rights. I’ve also always had a passion for sports. I was extremely excited when I figured out a way to combine those two interests!
In the middle of my freshman year of college at UNC Chapel Hill, I learned of an organization called Pack for a Purpose (PfaP). One of the girls in my Wood scholarship group had worked with PfaP the previous year to take BeGirl underwear to girls in Africa. BeGirl underwear makes it possible for girls to stay in school every week of the month. I loved this idea, and so I started thinking about how I could work with PfaP to make an impact.
Sports have always been a huge part of my life, and over the past year, I had read about research done that shows that organized sports give girls the opportunity to develop leadership skills and self-confidence. Unfortunately, in some areas of the world, there are non-physical barriers that prevent girls from participating in organized sports. Some of those barriers are a lack of uniforms and equipment.
My sisters and I have been very fortunate to be able to play in organized sports, as we have always been able to afford the necessary uniforms.
When I started thinking along those lines, my idea finally came together. I would collect gently used girls basketball jersey’s for the benefit of girls in Africa who didn’t have access to them. I reached out to the Founder of Pack for a Purpose, Rebecca Rothney, and pitched it to her. If I could collect gently used jerseys, would I be able to partner with Pack for a Purpose to deliver them to all girls’ sports teams in the developing world? To my excitement, her answer was yes. She and her husband were going to southern Africa in May, and would be thrilled to take the jerseys as part of the supplies they were collecting for The Children in the Wilderness Program founded by Wilderness Safaris.
Between January and April, I was able to reach out to local rec leagues and collect over 65 basketball jerseys that Rebecca and her husband would be able to take with them. Rebecca and Scott delivered the jerseys to Johannesburg where Wilderness Safaris collected them. Wilderness Safaris is now distributing them to girls in their eco clubs in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa.
Empowering girls through sports by providing them with the uniforms they need is a project I will continue. I am currently working to establish a sustainable model for my initiative.