Sports were never on the agenda. Lincoln Elementary (my school) had teams, but in the 1990s, girls in our area participated in drill teams — a form of cheerleading that focused more on synchronized stepping. Sports were mostly reserved for the boys. If there had been a sports program for girls in our neighborhood, I’m sure my mother would have signed me up for that, too. Yet, the reality was then, as it is now: Sports programs outside of school for Black girls are scarce.
And that’s a problem. Why? Because Black girls, who are are often overlooked in this area, need it most. I didn’t find how important physical activity was until I hit college and gained 75 pounds, developed high blood pressure and was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid. While my condition is hereditary, its effects could have been lessened had I continued to lead an active lifestyle beyond grade school, a lesson that needs to be reinforced among young Black girls now.
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