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Go Girl Go!

One of the highlights of my year is attending the Women’s Sports Foundation’s (WSF) Annual Salute to Women in Sports.  It is so inspiring to have over 60 Olympic and professional athletes gathered in one room.  Michelle Kwan (figure skating) and Allyson Felix (track & field), fellow members of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, were there.  Laila Ali (boxing), Gretchen Bleiler (snowboarding), Alana Nichols (Paralympic skiing and basketball), Jessica Mendoza (softball) and so many more.

Every athlete has someone special in their life who supported them along the way and helped them succeed. Whether that is a parent, or a coach, or other athletes who came before them and served as a source of inspiration, those who paved the way enabled and allowed these athletes to be whoever they desired to be.

All of these athletes are champions in and out of sports.

One thing that really makes the WSF strong is these women give back…..or better stated….pay it forward.  They mentor young people…people who may never wear an Olympic medal but who will gain enough confidence in themselves to finish high school and go on to earn a college degree.  They adopt schools, volunteer at community organizations, and make special appearances at parks and playgrounds to help bring needed resources so young people of all backgrounds and abilities can learn and play there.

They support programs like the WSF’s GoGirlGo!, which identifies and weaves together quality resources within communities and provides comprehensive support through education, funding, public awareness and networking.  This award winning program has reached more than 621,000 girls and provided more than $4.6 million to girl-serving organizations.

And never have such programs been more needed than right now.  Statistics show that more than 75% of 12th grade girls are unhappy with their bodies, and one in three adolescent girls will experience depression, anxiety or eating disorders.  We know girls who participate in physical activity have a better self-image.

Through sports our children learn about teamwork, goal setting and the pursuit of excellence. It is also how youth learn how to deal with failure and become more determined to do better the next time, not only in sports but in life.

The WSF advocates for sports, health and education and since our inception we have provided more than $50 million in grants to advance participation, research and leadership in sports and physical activity for girls and women.   We are proud to support the work of First Lady Michelle Obama and the Let’s Move! campaign.

I ask each of you to consider helping one boy or girl participate in a physical activity.  Hey, why not mentor a young person and sign up together for the Million PALA Challenge so you can both be counted towards our goal of having one million Americans earn a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) between now and next September! To learn how, visit www.presidentschallenge.org today.

I look forward to having you on our team and being counted as one of a million with all of you!

Billie Jean King

Founder and Honorary Chair, Women’s Sports Foundation
Member, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition
2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient