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In February, Milford School District celebrated “National Girls and Women in Sports” Day (NGWSD), a national effort to celebrate the importance of equal opportunity for girls and women in sports. This year marked the 34th annual celebration which is sponsored by the Women’s Sports Foundation.

“Sports give young girls a positive outlet and helps them develop self-esteem,” Jan Fleming, a health and physical education teacher at Milford High School, said. “It also develops teamwork and promotes discipline. There are no limits on the sports girls may try out for in Milford.”

Governor John Carney announced the establishment of NGWSD in Delaware on February 4. Milford High School athlete, Summer Davis, and Field Hockey Coach Andrea McPike, along with other female athletes and coaches, were on hand for Governor Carney’s announcement.

“I know those principles you learn on the field are just as relevant as the classroom,” Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services, said at the announcement. “The idea that hard work pays off, that persistence really matters and math and science and learning about those roles on the field are just as applicable when you are pursuing your careers and dreams.”

Fleming suggested that parents encourage girls to participate in sports by exposing them at a young age.

“It is also important that they show up for practice and games,” Fleming said. “Parental support is critical along with encouraging them to follow through with their commitment. Girls in Milford are able to try out for any sport and we highly encourage them to do so.”

According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, young women gain confidence, strength and character through sports, some of the most important tools girls and women need to become strong leaders in life. Research suggests that physical activity is an effective tool for reducing the symptoms of stress and depression among young women.

Physical activity is anything that moves the body and gets the heart pumping. Working out on a regular basis, which means three days per week, makes young people stronger, increases energy and improves flexibility. Light exercise such as throwing a Frisbee to vigorous activity like running put the body in movement, providing similar benefits.

Experts suggest that children ages 5 through 12 engage in some type of physical activity for at least 60 minutes each day. Try not to make it seem like a chore or a scheduled nuisance or young children will not be excited to participate. Teens between the ages of 13 and 18 should also exercise at least 60 minutes per day. If a child is sedentary, build physical activity to 60 minutes. As it gets easier, add vigorous sessions of 20 minutes or more at least three days per week.

Light activities may include playing catch, walking or dancing slowly, throwing horseshoes or playing ping pong. Moderate activity may include walking briskly, hiking, leisurely inline skating, trampoline jumping, doubles tennis, swimming, volleyball or playground activities. Vigorous activity may include running, aerobics or dancing, bicycling, jumping rope, ice hockey or competitive sports.

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