Girls huddle together in the gymnasium, bouncing on their knees, practically halfway off the ground. Their fingertips wriggle excitedly, ready to shoot up in the air like rockets. The girl in front of the group announces, “My name is Jaida and I like laughing.” Desperately and excitedly the girls wave their arms, begging to be picked. After scanning the crowd Jaida points and says, “Asia.” Asia squeals and jumps to her feet. She links arms with Jaida and declares with a smile on her face, “I can connect with that!”
“I Can Connect with That” is one of several activities we use to learn about diversity at Girls in the Game. In this rare instance all the girls agreed with Jaida, because who doesn’t like laughing? But this isn’t always the case.
“My name is Asia and I like carrots.” Some girls raise their hands, others leave them in their laps. Throughout the game, the girls see a variety of similarities and differences displayed among their team. Some of their teammates like cats, while others prefer dogs. Some girls love avocados while others hate them. As more participants get up to share their favorite things with the group, the girls learn that they have different favorite seasons, hobbies, subjects in school and family structures.
At Girls in the Game we celebrate diversity. We encourage girls to be themselves and make new friends. We challenge them to work together in spite of their differences and recognize the beauty of a diverse team. Our programming provides supportive environments where girls can think, play and grow in their own ways, while still belonging to the Girls in the Game team. As our values read, “We are stronger as a whole team than we are as individuals and we recognize the unique contributions of all.”
“I Can Connect With That” ends when each girl has been picked to share something she likes. The last participant links arms with the first, creating a circle in which everyone is connected. When the game is over the girls sit down and I ask them, “What would it be like if everyone on this team was the same?” Shuffling in silence, they think for a moment until one participant shouts, “It would be boring!”
I think she is right.
A diverse team makes for a healthy team. It would be boring if we were exactly the same. Some of us have to love avocados, and others have to hate them. But while we gladly celebrate our differences, I think we can all agree on one thing: We love Girls in the Game.