Girls and sports
Parents can help their daughters become involved

by Cheryl Leschasin
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 07/97) - We all know that physical fitness is beneficial. But some girls find becoming involved in athletics is difficult.

As parents, there are ways to encourage your daughter to participate in sports.

In early stages, it is important to help your daughter learn fundamental skills. Whether it's tossing around the ol' pigskin or shooting hoops in the driveway, girls need to feel comfortable with running, throwing, catching and kicking.

Later, parents must actively support their daughter's involvement in physical activity. This includes watching any events she may be involved in, driving her to practice, or planning fitness-oriented family outings.

Before sending your daughter off to a new sport, make sure she has proper equipment. Nancy Hayward, manager of the Sports Traders, says ill-fitting equipment could lead to injury, or at the least make it hard for your daughter to perform at her maximum.

An active parental role model is an excellent way to help your daughter feel comfortable with sports. According to Cross Country BC magazine, a mother's participation in a sport can increase her child's participation by 22 per cent.

This doesn't mean that moms must don helmets and chest protectors for a rousing game of hockey. There are loads of sports in Yellowknife that the whole family can get involved in. Consider bowling, cross-country skiing, ice skating or even jogging.

Parents could and should introduce their daughters to active women. Almost everyone knows a woman who coaches, officiates or participates in sports. If not, talk to your child's teachers. Many local female teachers are involved in athletics and would be an excellent role model for your daughter.

Jen Sharman, a Sir John student, says that it wasn't easy for her to become involved in sports when she hit high school. "I just pushed away my fears and went for it. I know I'm not awesome, but I'm in it for the fun."

Above all, emphasize fun and fitness rather than competition and slimness.

Jill Christensen, nutritionist with Mackenzie Regional Health Services, reminds us that physical activity does not necessarily mean sports. Physical activity is moving your body, getting your heart rate up, and having fun!