GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Public Schools are working to keep girls involved in sports.
School leaders say there is a trend where female students are dropping out of athletics by the age of 14 at twice the rate of their male classmates.
“At this point, a lot of it is accessibility, funding and just a general overall interest,” said Brodie Larson, GRPS middle school athletics coordinator. “At the same time, we’re trying to keep the programs alive, give new programs to allow them to participate, but at the same time, try to find other ways to keep them engaged through middle school and up into high school.”
Larson said there isn’t one sport that is being hit the hardest and it often differs between schools.
Martin Luther King Leadership Academy Athletic Director James Peacock III said restoring an in-house athletics program has already had a drastic impact.
“… We’re talking about grades are being changed, we’re talking about relationships are being built and/or repaired,” Peacock said. “So, relationships that may have been an issue are now teammates, so you’ve got to play together and things like that. So, it’s had a tremendous effect.”
He thinks teaching students about life through athletics is an important factor in building up young people.
“I think these things are the type of situations that communities need in reference to how do you build up young women, especially young black and brown women in underprivileged communities,” Peacock said. “Offering these types of programs and teaching life through athletics, it’s very important.”
The district is working to raise $10,000 by the end of the month, which will be matched and put towards keeping young women involved in athletics.