One of primary goals in establishing Zoila Athletics is to use our platform to empower young athletes to be themselves, particularly young black girls who are commonly underrepresented in several ways.
Historically, the gymnastics world has favored the Eastern European style of the sport: lithe bodies with long lines, a visual representation of the “perfection” demanded by the judges. In 2007, Steve Penny, the President of USA Gymnastics, initiated a diversity study to "determine minority participation levels within the member clubs" across the United States. What they found is that an overwhelming 74.46 percent of the amateur athletes participating in the sport identified as Caucasian. In contrast, only 6.6 percent of the athletes surveyed were African American, and only 3.63 percent were Hispanic. While this survey is dated; and we’ve seen more diversity since then, we still have a long way to go.
According to the Women's Sports Foundation, by age 14, girls are dropping out of sports at 1.5 times the rate of boys. By age 17, more than half of girls will quit playing sports altogether. Even more sobering is when you combine the gender disparity in sports with the racial one. At a predominantly white high school, girls have 82% of the opportunities to play sports that boys have. Meanwhile, at a predominantly minority high school, girls have only 67% of the opportunities to play sports that boys have, meaning that for every 100 female students, there are just 20 spots on a sports team (Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC): 2011-12).
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The studies show there are significant long-term benefits for young women of color. Girls who stay in sports have been proven to have better health, higher self-esteem, greater academic achievement, stronger leadership skills, and improved economic opportunity. Those same female athletes go on to become small business-owners, innovators, and CEOs, transferring the lessons learned in the gym - mental toughness, dedication, teamwork, fortitude - into successes in their professional careers.
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There are several reasons that limit young girls of color from pursuing and staying in sports like gymnastics and dance. One of those is cost. At the competitive level, gymnastics can be upwards of $20,000 or more. This includes tuition, competitive meets, travel, coaches’ fees, leotards, medical care and more. Let’s face it, many families simply cannot comfortable afford such a hefty price tag.
We’ve always believed in rolling up our sleeves to support community and be the change and we are finding creative ways to do just that! We’re excited to announce that we are teaming up with Brown Girls do Gymnastics to provide partial or full scholarships to families in need, to offset the costs of attending the first annual BGDG gymnastics camp Camp Isla™. Camp Isla™ consists of a high-performance camp July 3-8, 2022 for levels 7 and up and a training camp July 5-8, 2022 for levels 3-6. Families will be selected based on financial need.
To help as many families as we can, we will commit 10% of our sales and 100% of tips for the month of March-April to support the scholarship fund.
To join our efforts in sending a girl to gymnastics camp, select support.