Igniting the Lives of Girls and Women Through Sports

“Businesses are learning the importance of girls and women participating in sports as it encourages leadership.”

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Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation, USA

A case study from Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation

Kansas City has been a pioneer in engaging women in sport. Through WIN for KC; their flagship programme for women, Kansas City has changed the life of life of many girls and women in the community.

What is the ‘WIN for KC’ programme?

The Women’s Intersport Network for Kansas City (WIN for KC) was established in 1994 as a programme under the umbrella of the Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation.

WIN for KC advocates and promotes the lifetime value of sports and fitness, while providing opportunities for participation and for leadership development to girls and women. WIN for KC programme includes participation and networking opportunities, leadership seminars, and promotions of women’s events. Below are four concrete annual initiatives under the umbrella of the WIN for KC programme:

• The Women’s Sports Awards Celebration: the largest luncheon in the country celebrating National Girls & Women in Sports Day.

• The Camp WIN for girls ages 6-12 teaching them 16 different sports. Part of Camp WIN is the Live Active curriculum that guides the girls on lessons learned through sports such as leadership, resiliency, determination, and goal setting.

• The WIN for KC Triathlon: sanctioned by USA Triathlon and the premier all women’s multi-sport race in the Midwest. It includes an online Girls Triathlon that engages girls and provides opportunities for mentorship by other females.

• The Youth Advisory Board: that engages high school girls from the Kansas City area to serve as advisors, ambassadors and volunteers for WIN for KC.

What results has ‘WIN for KC’ enjoyed so far?

Since its inception in 1994, WIN for KC has kept proving its importance for the community. Just three years after its creation, the Kansas City Sports Commission raised funds to hire a permanent staff member to dedicate their time to grow WIN for KC and spread the mission. Now in 2018, WIN for KC is led by a director and supported by an events department with five full-time staff and a marketing department of four.

The WIN for KC has changed the life of many girls and women in the community. Let’s see how!

The Women’s Sports Award Celebration: from a few hundred to over 1,7000 in attendance!

The first celebration was in 1997 with a few hundred in attendance. This luncheon has grown every year securing top professional athletes as keynote speakers such as Brandi Chastain (two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold-medalist), Billie Jean King (former World No. 1 professional tennis player and winner of 39 Grand Slam titles) and most recently Ibtihaj Muhammad (Olympic medalist in fencing). Many of the award winners have done great things in their lives and even more continue to contribute to the Kansas City Sports community including becoming more involved with WIN for KC.

Camp WIN: from a four-day to a three-week camp with more than 500 participating girls!

Created in 2003 to introduce local area girls to several sports, the Camp WIN started with a four-day format where participating girls were learned about nine different sports and fitness activities. In 2003, 129 girls aged 8-13 attended. Because of the popularity, the age limit was lowered to allow 6-year-olds to attend the four-day camp in 2008. In 2017, Camp WIN was attended by 574 girls with 36 of them attending on scholarship. In 2018, Camp WIN is expanding to a third week. Camp WIN has a lasting experience for the girls who attend Camp WIN with several of them going onto becoming collegiate athletes and working in sports off the courts. The skills the girls learn at Camp WIN they can apply to their everyday and carry those lessons with them for the rest of their lives.

The WIN for KC Triathlon: voted one of the best beginner triathlons in the world!

WIN for KC acquired the ownership of a women’s only triathlon in 2007. This encouraging and empowering event grew each year starting out in 2007 with 256 participants mainly from the Kansas City Metro area and capping at 1,245 women in 2014 coming from all over the country. In 2016, the WIN for KC Women’s Triathlon was voted one of the best beginner triathlons in the world by Triathlon Business International. In 2017 a Duathlon was added to the event to draw women who are afraid of the swimming component along with an Athena Division for those women over 165 lbs.

Key lessons learned

The key lessons learned can be summarised in three points:

  • 1. It is a great way to develop a differentiated value proposition

    Having an organisation (within a larger organization) specifically focused around empowering girls and women allows the Kansas City Sports Commission to bring unique programming and marketing opportunities to the table. Partner organisations benefit from the enhanced advocacy at no additional cost.

  • 2. It is important to partner with famous ambassadors

    Having such inspiring keynote speakers as Billie Jean King or Ibtihaj Muhammad is a great asset when it comes to inspiring a young generation of women and using sport as a learning tool.

  • 3. Programmes leverage community partnerships

    Businesses large and small support WIN for KC both financially and with employee volunteers. By engaging community leaders WIN for KC is able to share the importance of their mission and connect directly with businesses that have a passion for encouraging women leaders. Businesses are learning the importance of girls and women participating in sports as it encourages leadership.