A Day to Play and Break Barriers for Girls in Sports

  1. Updates

“Today I got to hang in a world where Rock Paper Scissors solves all and Fortnite dances are the new hello,” stated Meagan Kong, professional dancer/athlete and Adidas ambassador, in an Instagram post about her experience at a Playworks event.  #adidaswomenla

From indoor recess to cooperative after-school games, it was a day to start breaking down barriers and empower the next generation of women athletes and leaders. On January 16, Playworks partnered with Adidas and its “ambassadors”—a group of female athletes, innovators, community leaders, and entertainers from around the world—to kick off the She Breaks Barriers initiative in Southern California.

Meagan Kong Breaks Barriers at Jefferson Elementary School (Photo credit: Anahi Velasco)


Junior Coaches show how it’s done!

Jefferson Elementary School in Lennox hosted the day of fun and inspiration, with its own Junior Coaches joining together with students from two other Playworks schools. The wet weather outside hardly mattered as Playworks AmeriCorps Coaches and Junior Coaches showed that active and healthy play can happen anywhere. They led a series of classroom games, teaching pros from the WNBA and other sports some new tricks.

The day also featured a lunch-and-learn panel, after-school team building, and plenty of opportunities for the Adidas ambassadors to share their personal stories and for kids to ask these inspirational women questions. The She Breaks Barriers initiative works to support young girls and help them grow into strong, confident, and healthy leaders. The barriers to girls in sports can be very real. According to the Women’s Sport Foundation, by age 14, girls drop out of sports one-and-a-half times faster than boys. By age 17, more than half of girls who participated in sports have quit because they don’t have a sense of belonging.

High fives from WNBA Player Shavonte Zellous

Janelle Matthews, a Playworks program manager at the event, says her own experience bears this out.

Janelle, aka Coach Jay, is Thumbs Up on Breaking Barriers

“Even when I was a young girl, I liked to play football and basketball, and I always got a hard time, like, ‘Why don’t you go play jump rope? Why do you have to come over here?’ So I think that struggle of gender domination of certain sports can definitely drive young girls to shy away from playing them. It’s so important for me as a female coach to say, ‘Hey, I’m a girl, and I’m going to play, too. You want to play soccer? Let’s go play soccer.’”

That’s why the day’s message was important for the handful of boys who came to the event, too. One boy was awestruck when he met Christie Rampone, the former captain of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, three-time Olympic gold medalist, and two-time World Cup champion.

High fives from Olympic Champ Christie Rampone

“His mouth was open, his eyes were bright, he was looking at his friend next to him and nudging him like he just couldn’t believe it. That’s learning, too. You think about him as a young boy, looking at this woman who had dominated in the sport of soccer and looking at her with respect and excitement. Think about him going back to his school and having a different perspective on girls playing soccer,” Janelle says.

Fun, games, and Breaking Barriers

Playtime and smiles with Adidas ambassador Hannah Bronfman


Learn about Play Days

More Updates

March 30, 2022

Playworks Celebrates Women’s History Month ›

Playworks Southern California celebrates Women Leaders who have contributed to the Power of 25 years of Play. During this month, meet remarkable female leaders who strive to ensure that every student on the playground feels valued and heard. Throughout Southern California, these women have contributed to empowering students, especially young girls, to get in the…

Group of children
Group of children

January 18, 2022

Playworks Receives Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation Grant ›

DAVE ROBERTS CONGRATULATES PLAYWORKS AS A FOURTH QUARTER DODGERS FOUNDATION GRANTEES  Playworks Southern California was among 11 Los Angeles nonprofit organizations that received a video message from Dave Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager, congratulating them on receiving grant funds from the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF). Today 11 LA nonprofit organizations received this video…

screenshot of resource
screenshot of resource

November 19, 2021

AAA’s Creating Safe Spaces Guide and Lesson Plan ›

In partnership with AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah School Safety Patrol program, we’re proud to share teacher-led and student self-guided digital educational resources for Creating Safe Spaces – an interactive guide for students on how to have courageous conversations. AAA Creating Safe Spaces Overview This lesson is all about students being leaders in creating safe spaces…