Working in partnership with the London Thunder women’s basketball team, Runnymede is challenging objectification through sport and introducing disabled and non-disabled sportswomen role models into schools.
Runnymede Trustee and former competitive athlete Michelle Moore explains more in this blog for the Fawcett Society website (copied below).
‘Thank you so much for making me believe in myself’
These were the powerful words spoken by a Stacey, a 14-year-old young woman from South London who, along with 350 participants, started her day being part of a gender empowerment assembly. Stacey’s comments echo those of many of the other girls who found the assembly a supportive and inspiring experience. The number one reason girls don’t take part in sport or physical activity is the fear of being judged by others about their looks, size, clothes, ability and their choice to take part. Stacey’s comments become even more significant given the high percentage of girls who have low levels of body confidence. Instilling confidence and providing girls with positive sporting role models help to dispel the stereotypes that you have to look a certain way to participate in sport.
The highlight of the assembly was the interview between two Great Britain international basketball players, Paige Robinson and Rosalee Mason. They highlighted their own stories of success, adversity inspiration and hope. Paige, a 19-year-old basketball player currently on a scholarship in the US, has represented England from the age of 15 and has played internationally in Spain. Her love of basketball started at London Thunder when she was 13. Rosalee Mason was capped for England over 65 times, has played all over the world and is now a coach. Paige and Rosalee had a massive impact on students because they are local heroes; in them, students could see themselves and how they could reach for their own dreams. The players caused an even greater stir when they showed the girls their medals. Rosalee also produced the Olympic torch, as she was a torchbearer in London during the 2012 Olympic Games.
The power of the sports role model
Paige Robinson and Rosalee Mason (pictured) are powerful role models who come from the same community as the girls. They showed the aspiration gap can be bridged; girls can dare to dream at something bigger. The power of the sports role model is well and truly alive: not only by inspiring the future generation of young people to dare to dream big but also to believe in their own somebodyness, to be proud of their bodies and to take part in physical activity, and give basketball a go too!
The assembly started with Sport England’s most recent Maya Angelou narrated This Girl Can video followed by a presentation of images of sportswomen varying in shapes, sizes and build. The following discussion focused on body confidence, barriers to sport for girls, gender stereotypes, discrimination and the importance of physical activity. As part of the presentation the students were shown a photograph of the girls team at London Thunder basketball club; a club with a small girls team looking to expand. The assembly was energetic with rousing high fives and two clap moments – and spot prizes of London Thunder drawstring bags and autographs from the players.
BIP has reached 1400 young people aged 11-16 years old and was delivered in four South London secondary schools (three girls schools and one mixed) in Lewisham and Southwark.
Read Michelle’s full article on the Fawcett Society website.