February 27, 2013

GIG Social Good Spotlight: Girls in the Game

Go Inspire Go is proud to present this month’s Social Good Spotlight, to raise awareness of organizations doing good in their communities in order to inspire others to take action and ultimately make real social change.  For more information and to read past Social Good Spotlights, click here.

GIG SOCIAL GOOD SPOTLIGHT: Girls in the Game – Body, Mind, and Future

Compiled by Marcia Estarija Silva

What is Girls in the Game?
Girls in the Game provides and promotes sports and fitness opportunities, nutrition and health education, and leadership development for girls to encourage healthier choices and build confidence. Girls ages 7 through 18 can participate in a variety of activities – from yoga and lacrosse to soccer and dance - year-round.  By getting in the game – any game – girls can learn teamwork and perseverance, and to make decisions that lead to a happier, healthier life. Since 1995, Girls in the Game has become a leading girls' health and fitness organization in Chicago, empowering more than 3,000 girls every year.

 Source: Girls in the Game

What inspires Girls in the Game to do this work?
Being overweight can lead to serious health problems and the lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables makes eating healthy very difficult for many Chicago families.  On top of that, decreased funding of physical education and after school programs has led to an increased reliance on sedentary activities, such as watching television and surfing the internet.  When it comes to girls, research shows that even when schools offer gym, girls participate less than boys and while boys’ self-esteem increases as they reach adolescence, girls’ self-esteem dramatically falls.

"[We] take sports and fitness opportunities and we combine that with health education for girls—nutrition, body image and leadership development—and bring it together to make programs that address the whole girl,” Amy Skeen, Executive Director of Girls in the Game, explained on the Girls in the Game website.

In 1995, a group of women surveyed the services and opportunities in Chicago and discovered that despite the passage of Title IX, which banned sexual discrimination in schools, girls had few opportunities to participate in athletics.  In February of that year, A Sporting Chance Foundation (the original name of Girls in the Game) was founded by Kathy Chuckas, along with Marilynn Preston, Cathie Ryan, and Rhona Frazin.  By 2000, A Sporting Chance Foundation was reaching 200 girls per year. In 2003, based on feedback from girls, the organization expanded its mission to include nutrition and health education, and leadership development and changed the name of the organization to Girls in the Game. Strong collaborations with community partners, like the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Public Schools, have been essential to the organization’s success.

 Source: Girls in the Game

How can GIGSTERS get involved and help Girls in the Game?
- Donate
- There are numerous opportunities to volunteer, from being a one-time guest coach or a weekly assistant at an after school elementary site to helping out on Game Day to providing help with homework.  Click here to see a comprehensive list of opportunities and download the application form.
- Shop using GoodShop – Click on the “Choose a Cause” button, enter “Girls in the Game” and a portion of your shopping will be donated to Girls in the Game.

Girls in the Game Video
[Source: makeitbetter.net video channel]

Find more Social Good Spotlights here.  If you know of an organization that you think should be featured, please help us forward their stories to inspire the world and contact us.

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February 19, 2013

Pilot Inspires Compton Kids to Dream Big

What's the first word that comes to mind when I say the words, "Compton, Calif."?

A hood that's up to no good? OK, not fair, that's more than one word. It's also not a 100 percent fair representation of Compton. I recently met an aeronautical angel in this city, about 16 miles south of Los Angeles, who, for the past 15 years, has helped more than 2,000 kids earn their wings.

Robyn Petgrave, founder of Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum (TAM), is using aeronautics to get at-risk youth in Compton off the streets and into the air -- educating, inspiring and empowering them to soar high and reach their dreams. Starting at age eight, kids who stay out of trouble, get good grades and have positive attitudes earn the privilege to fly planes.

"I talked to the kids about staying away from drugs and gangs, communicating, using aviation as a real life application of math and science, and working hard in school and life. As I noticed that some of them listened and followed through, I realized that I wanted to help kids succeed using aviation as a magnet to keep kids off the streets for a living," Petgrave said.

As the founder of Celebrity Helicopters, a flight school and tour company, he still felt empty. He's rubbed elbows with celebrities, garnered media recognition and even got the attention of Oprah. But what he's most proud of is the title of "role model" to more than 8,000 kids at more than 21 different schools where he's been a guest speaker.

Jump in and take a look at our Go Inspire Go video and come along for an inspiring journey. Fasten your seat belts -- I promise your spirits will soar when you hit play.

After spending the day with several TAM kids, I was on a high. I was most impressed with the kids' maturity, their willingness and duty to give back and responsible demeanors. Many TAM alum, like James Knox, are giving museum tours to the public and mentoring newcomers. Way to pay it forward!

It's interesting to witness how the kids were drawn to TAM because of the planes, but it's clear that they're just a vehicle that gets the kids in the door and cockpit. Petgrave says there's a tremendous amount of responsibility when you fly a plane, life skills that can be transferred from the air and to the streets.

I was lucky enough to be flown by James high above downtown Los Angeles. That's when it occurred to me -- what if we all took time out of our day to spend time with the youth, to tell them "YOU matter." To what new heights would this child take us in our lives and our society?

Robyn and the kids told me many sordid stories -- both heartbreaking and harrowing -- of kids who've come through the doors with no hope. "Gangs, shootings…" says teen Cinthya Hernandez who found her calling and life's purpose after meeting Robyn and the other TAM kids.

"One of the kids got shot in the leg right in front of his house for no apparent reason," Robyn explained.

Courtesy: TAM

What's next for Robyn and his kids? He's joining forces with NASA's SpaceX program. His dream is to send one of his TAM kids to space! Something tells me this out of this world idea will become a reality in the near future. Cinthya shared her favorite quote with me. "Why shoot for the stars, when you can go to the moon?"

High five to Robyn and his crew for taking these amazing kids under his wing and catapulting them past the sky's limit. What a great way to use his power and fueling the dreams of these bright kids and challenging them to soar to new heights.

Take Action:

1) Learn more about Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum: Tamuseum.org
2) Use your power to support TAM
3. Mentor a Child in Your Community. Inspire them to follow their passion.

What can YOU do?

*Thank you Connie Chan Wang for introducing GIG to TAM!

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February 6, 2013

Sowing the Seeds of Compassion in YOUR Kids

I'd like to welcome Go Inspire Go's new guest blogger and GIG Spark Mom-bassador: Kala Shah is a non-profit and philanthropic consultant and mom to 3 young boys, who was inspired by Go Inspire Go (GIG) and Toan Lam to launch the GIG Community Heroes Club at Sun Valley Elementary in San Rafael, Calif. She hopes to inspire others to get their GIG on and launch service clubs in their own communities! Kala will be updating us on her adventure with these new changemakers. Stay tuned for her blog updates every month. Welcome Kala!

By Kala Shah and Toan Lam

As a mom of three young boys, my hope is to raise good kids who are kind to one another. I struggled to find concrete ways to teach these lessons. Last year I met GIG’s Chief Inspirator, Toan Lam, at an LinkedIn/Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) event promoting philanthropy and doing good, a perfect setting to cultivate a meaningful new friendship. We immediately hit it off, marveling about how innately good and generous young kids are. How do you harness all that beauty and goodness and unleash it? What could we do to propel kids to make their mark on the world? Toan gave me the energy and spark to make good on my promises to myself and my kids — to live in gratitude and to give back.

Several working lunches later, Toan and I had come up with a theory and an idea we were willing to test. If we provide young kids a space to express their concerns about the community and a little support to inspire them to action, who knows what may transpire? I invited Toan to present GIG’s Lesson on Compassion to 500 students at my son’s elementary school, Sun Valley School in San Rafael, Calif. "What can YOU do?" he asked the kids.

Marin is known for its natural beauty, affluence and sense of community. While all of the above is true, as you saw in the video, there are many folks living in need. Even some students at Sun Valley come from low-income families. This kicked off the launch of Sun Valley’s Community Heroes club, facilitated by yours truly. A few months later, the kids are excitedly helping local causes. Every week, I was surprised to see how many kids showed up during their lunch hour, ready to discover ways to use their power to help in whatever way they could. Many went home collecting Ziploc bags full of change to donate to causes they believe in. Up to 40 kids meet to talk about problems they see in the community and take actions to help out.

Here’s our impact so far:

* I was impressed that the kids identified these very adult issues: helping the hungry, homeless, foster kids, animals and those who can’t afford medicine. Whew, we have a lot of work to do!

* We collected 80 coats to benefit a great local organization called Canal Alliance, which assists low-income, Spanish-speaking immigrants acquire the tools they need to thrive in their newly adopted home.

* Kids have set up lemonade stands and sold their own books in their free time to raise money to help people in need.

We may just end up sowing the seeds of compassion so that by the time these students are in high school and required to perform service hours, they will be service veterans conducting sophisticated and deeply impactful projects within the community. Let’s see how far these ripples flow!

I realized that in giving these kids a forum to brainstorm, problem solve and take action, I too was getting something back. Through GIG Community Heroes, I am finally fulfilling this deep-seated desire and obligation to give back to my kids and the community.

Feeling inspired? Want to start your own GIG Community Heroes Club? Join us on this journey to inspire your community. Let’s expand our platform together.

Take Action:
How can you start your own Community Heroes club? Here are some great resources to help you get started:

1)    GIG Spark Lesson on Compassion 
2)    Get connected to Generation On and Kids Care
3)    Our presentation on Inspiring Service GIG's blog

What can YOU do?

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