Together with the WNBA, Girls Leadership is celebrating International Day of the Girl by launching three free Belonging in Basketball resources that we created through the Her Time To Play initiative:
- Certification: Training to equip coaches with activities, coaching tips, and mindsets to create a strong foundation of wellbeing, belonging and community for their teams.
- Curriculum: 36 lessons across 3 age groups (7-9, 10-12, 13-17) designed to teach players to be brave, make mistakes, and lead; created in partnership with Girls Leadership.
- Wellness Check-Ins: 23 quick activities to build the social and emotional muscles of self-awareness, empathy, and connection to others; created in partnership with Girls Leadership.
We are thrilled to bring basketball and sports to International Day of the Girl because the need to support girls’ mental health has never been more urgent than it is today. Sports participation has been shown to positively impact girls’ wellbeing and leadership development. In the decade since October 11th was designated International Day of the Girl, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has been keeping track of the health and wellbeing of American youth, and the statistics are not good—especially for girls. Almost 3 in 5 girls reported feeling persistently hopeless and sad, double the rate for their male peers. The rate is even higher among girls of color, LGBTQ+ girls, and gender-expansive youth. 
We know that sports have a role to play in repairing this crisis. Girls who participated in sports had lower rates of loneliness and depression, and higher rates of academic achievement and hope for the future. Put simply, sports help girls thrive.
Yet only 62% of girls, compared to 75% of boys, participate in sports. The distinction begins early: by age 14, girls start dropping out of sports at twice the rate of their male peers.  For marginalized girls and girls in urban and rural areas, the difference is even starker. What’s the issue here?
Well, to start with, only 19% of Hispanic/Latine neighborhoods and 30% of Black neighborhoods have recreational facilities, compared to 62% of White neighborhoods. This is a problem for all youth, but especially girls, who face additional challenges to seeing themselves on the courts: the Aspen Institute estimated that only 25% of youth sports coaches are women, and only 6% of sports media coverage went to women’s sports.  Why would girls aspire to sports when they don’t see themselves represented in sports?
That’s why we created a resource to support coaches: Belonging in Basketball, offered in collaboration with the WNBA’s Her Time To Play initiative. One of the CDC’s top three recommendations for improving all youth mental health is increasing a sense of belonging and safety, and we have concrete, actionable steps for making that happen. Coaches, educators, and parents can learn how to create brave spaces for girls so that they can feel seen as individuals and as members of a team.
Our culturally responsive, healing-centered lessons and activities are designed with direct input from girls themselves, and reflect the needs of the most marginalized players. By helping the most marginalized girls and gender-expansive youth, we uplift all youth. Join us in creating Belonging in Basketball alongside the WNBA. Sign up at Her Time To Play to get access to the full curriculum, free training, and follow #HerTimeToPlay to learn more about players’, coaches’, and girls’ stories via social media.
Note: Registration via the Her Time To Play website is required in order to gain access to the Her Time To Play Academy on WorkRamp.
 Center for Disease Control. “Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Summary and Trends Report: 2011-2021.” 2022. and 2023.
 Women’s Sports Foundation. “The Healing Power of Sport: Covid-19 and Girls’ Participation, Health, and Achievement.” 2023.
 United for Girls. “Count Her In: A Playbook for Youth Sports Programs to Engage Girls.” 2022.