Girls in the Game Promotes Fun, Fitness for Kids!

Check out this great Pantagraph article from 5/8/2013! YWCA McLean County is proud of our partnership with Girls in the Game!


BLOOMINGTON — Under a sunny sky, the team took the field, the players lined up and the ball was snapped.

It wasn’t a typical high school football game, but the third-, fourth- and fifth-grade girls were clearly “in the game.”

“They really like playing football,” said Kaitlin McClimon, coordinator of a new after-school program, aptly named Girls in the Game, held at four Bloomington elementary schools and the YWCA of McLean County.

About 85 students participated, jumping into unfamiliar sports and taking part in fitness, nutrition, health education and leadership development programs.

At Oakland Elementary School, for instance, 25 students spent 10 weeks in the weekly, 90-minute program that included playing a variety of sports, learning new skills and a eating a healthy snack.

Girls in the Game, founded in Chicago in 1995, drew 3,200 Chicagoland girls to its program of overall health and well-being, McClimon said. The non-profit organization chose Bloomington as a pilot expansion program.

At Oakland, the girls played soccer, football and yoga.

“I like that there are no boys,” said third-grader Mykaela Steele, 9, because they sometimes play too rough.

Oakland fifth-grader India Scott said her favorite activity was team tag. “We can have fun. We have girl time and all get along,” she said.

Studies show students benefit from gender-specific programs, said McClimon, an Illinois State University graduate student in exercise psychology. “They get more out of it.”

The local program in Bloomington is in collaboration with ISU’s kinesiology department, with after-school programs also held at Stevenson, Washington, Oakland and Bent schools and at the YWCA. The schools already had a YWCA after-school program, so school-age child care director thought there would be good participation.

The first 25 girls to apply at each site were chosen. “The girls are thrilled they get to do this after school,” said Oakland Principal Mary Kay Scharf.

Conrad and ISU faculty Amy Hurd and Deb Garrahy brought the program to ISU, McClimon said; it was funded by a Healthy Kids Healthy Families grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois.

McClimon’s position is paid, but the other adults are all volunteers.

“It’s always a big deal to stay after school,” said Kim Hillard of Bloomington, whose third-grade daughter, Lillie, 8, proved pretty handy with a football.

“She’s made new friends,” said her mom. “She likes to be active. It’s a good outlet for her.”

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DISCLAIMER: All information and photos posted above are credited to the Pantagraph article that appeared in the 5/8/2013 issue. 


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