A few weeks ago, I attended a Girls in the Game Game Day at Oglesby School. Everything went as planned. Eighty girls, two hours, flag football, chatting about friendships and bullying, dancing. The girls laughed loudly and got grass stains on their knees. They cheered for each other and talked about moving fast and being strong. Overall, it was a great day. For me, for the volunteers, for the girls.
Though it was a great day, what made the day memorable for me was overhearing one simple statement. “People from around the world will see your photo and hear the stories about how amazing you are.”
A corporate volunteer from Johnson Controls asked for a moment to speak with the girls. She told them that she will post their picture and tell their story on her work portal. She told them that their photograph will be seen by staff as soon as they turn on their computers to start work. She told them that their photograph will be seen by staff throughout the country. And she told them that people from around the world will see their photo and read the story about how amazing they are. It was only after this last statement that a group of girls standing next to me raised their eyebrows, moved back their shoulders in pride and nodded their heads. A few girls gasped. It seemed big.
This got me thinking about the power of expectation. If we recognize that people from all around the world will think these girls are amazing, they will begin to believe that they are amazing. And isn’t that what we want for our girls? For them to be seen and see themselves as the amazing people they are? If we think big, the girls will think big. And in this, we have a great responsibility. Girls will rise up to the expectations we set for them, so we better set them high. And we’d better believe that they can reach them.
So, when I talk about Girls in the Game, I will talk big. I will talk about how the stories of the girls who live in our Chicago communities are heard throughout the city, throughout the country, throughout the world. I will let the girls know how far their stories reach and that their stories are important, impactful and powerful. I will talk about how these girls, and all girls, matter. That’s how Girls in the Game works – one girl, one neighborhood at a time.