A new Wilson High School club is helping to support young girls playing middle school sports.
The club, called Sport it Forward, is raising money to help Washington Middle School's girls' soccer team with funding, uniforms and shoes.
"There always seems to be money for young boys to participate in a rich variety of sports," Jason West, AP English teacher and club advisor, said. "But when it comes to finding money to get young girls to participate, then it becomes a little bit more challenging."
The club was the idea of sophomore Kristin Berry, a varsity soccer player with a passion for helping young girls pursue their love of their chosen sport.
"In middle school, I played a lot of sports and I was fortunate to have a good team and a good coach," Berry said. "But when you travel to other schools, you notice that some of the teams don't have the right kind of gear."
During her freshman year at Wilson, Berry said that she had the idea to start the Sport it Forward club to help fill some gaps created due to funding inequality within girls' sport teams. West agreed to monitor the club and the students have been building the foundation ever since.
"One thing I love about Kristin is that she is constantly reflecting on her leadership skills," West said about Berry. "They (the students) are trying to develop a stronger focus and they're doing it on their own."
West said that he leaves the direction of the club to the students, including figuring out how to approach fundraisers and allocate any funds raised.
And according to Berry, Sport it Forward has raised nearly $500 thanks to a club bake sale that took place in front of the Chase Bank on Second Street in Belmont Shore. That money has been used to help purchase equipment for the Washington Middle School girls' soccer and volleyball teams. The rest of the money will be used to host a color run, with the proceeds from that used to expand their philanthropic endeavors.
"Her (Berry's) year is a really strong year," West said. "They are kids who know how to think and they are not afraid to express themselves — and when they do, they're completely coherent and mature."
In addition to raising money, Sport it Forward members volunteer time to help coach middle school youth in various sporting activities at the Boys and Girls Club. Since many of the students participate in high school sports, they use their talents to lead their younger peers through practices — because service isn't just about about the money, according to Berry.
"We want to empower girls through sports and make sure that they have a chance to play if they want to," Berry said.
Sport it Forward is accepting donations for cleats, kneepads and other sporting equipment, as well as cash. For more information, email Jason West at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sport it Forward also has a public Instagram account. Go to Instagram.com/SportItForward.
Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at email@example.com.