Harper: Designing Her Own Future

“Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact” puts the spotlight on five amazing middle school students whose shared love of STEM and sports transcends their differences. These young women — all Play Like a Girl program participants — are true embodiments of our determination to create a world where girls believe in endless possibilities.

Meet all of our “Potential Realized” honorees here.

Name, Age

 Harper, 11

School

Dupont Hadley 

Hometown

Hermitage

Favorite Sport

Softball

Favorite STEM Subject

Engineering

Words you live by

She believed she could, so she did. Click To Tweet

How is she potential, realized? 

When Harper is asked who her hero is, she names her elementary school art teacher. She has always known that she loves art, and had a passion for design and creativity, but never realized that she could turn that passion into a career at the intersection of STEM.

When Harper’s dad found out about a Play Like a Girl ice skating event on Facebook, he signed her up, and she quickly became interested in the other programs offered. According to Harper, “I was curious about it [Play Like a Girl] and I liked doing it because I got to learn more about STEM, and it would help me in school and help me better understand things covered in school.” 

Harper’s experience at Play Like a Girl programs has pushed her to excel in the classroom -- specifically in math and science, as well as in art class, where she has earned a reputation for being artistic.  

She sees her confidence as stemming from exposure to “women in a variety of jobs and now knowing I could choose my own future job.” Today, Harper envisions a plethora of career opportunities of which she was unaware before joining Play Like a Girl.

Harper has long dreamed of a career in art, but had no idea what that might look like until Play Like a Girl. Highlights of her experience include opportunities to engage with a wide range of women in the workplace on our Corporate Field Trips and through other mentoring programs that have allowed her to see where she might one day find her place in the world. But today, she sees that somewhere at the cross section of engineering and design. 

She has been able to see the connections between what she learns in art class about creativity and expression and the technology we use in our everyday lives. Because of the inspiration she has drawn from Play Like a Girl, Harper has even started joining her dad at his job as a plumber. She gets “to go into the house and see how [plumbing] looks and is built” and “may want to do something like that.” 

Exposure to real world jobs and women (and men) who are leaders across a wide range of STEM careers has given Harper an idea of how her passions and interests can intersect in a way that allows her to construct and build new things, giving her the motivation to keep working hard in the classroom. 

Harper loves Play Like a Girl because she's been able to find a strong community that allows her to maintain relationships with former classmates as well as get a clearer vision of the limitless opportunities available to her.

She credits her Play Like a Girl community and the bold vision for girls for her newfound confidence and willingness to step out of her "box" in social situations, as well as in the classroom and on the softball field. “Play Like a Girl has changed the way I am when I meet a new person I don’t know. I'm more confident and outgoing now.” 

Whether helping her peers in math class, playing a game of softball with her team, or just exploring and meeting like-minded girls through other Play Like a Girl events, this community has changed a lot for Harper. She has found her voice which she now uses to elevate others. Harper is truly potential, realized.

Meet all of our Potential Realized honorees. And share their profiles on Twitter with the hashtag #PotentialRealized.

Follow #PotentialRealized on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 


Carwyn: Shooting for the Stars

“Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact” puts the spotlight on five amazing middle school students whose shared love of STEM and sports transcends their differences. These young women — all Play Like a Girl program participants — are true embodiments of our determination to create a world where girls believe in endless possibilities.

Meet all of our “Potential Realized” honorees here.

Name, age

Carwyn, 10

School

Reeves Rogers Elementary 

Hometown

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Favorite sport

Cheer, basketball

Favorite STEM subject

Engineering

Words you live by

I can do anything I put my mind to. — Carwyn, age 10 Click To Tweet

How is she potential, realized?

Carwyn initially joined the Play Like a Girl community because of her interest in STEM, telling us “I first attended the Play Like a Girl summer camp, one of my first summer camps ever. I wanted to be involved because I liked being around girls who enjoy science just like me. It gave me an opportunity to learn about STEM.”

However, she quickly realized that Play Like a Girl is about so much more than science alone. Carwyn reports that she is “more interested in science,” and talks more to her teachers and friends about STEM. “I feel like more of a leader in the classroom,” she says. 

Carwyn loves Play Like a Girl because she enjoys being able to spend time with other girls her age while also learning about STEM and the role she can take in it. Among her favorite Play Like a Girl activities are our corporate field trips where she gets the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at local companies, engage in hands-on STEM activities and meet women (and men) in a wide range of STEM-related careers. 

Carwyn says that being afforded the opportunity to participate in Play Like a Girl programs and events has helped build her confidence, overcome her discomfort about speaking in public, and be fierce — allowing her to dream bigger and crazier than ever. “I want to work for NASA and now I know that I can,” she says. “[Play Like a Girl] makes me feel like that dream is realistic and will eventually come true.” 

Marked decline in intrinsic academic motivation occurs between the ages of 11 and 16. One of the most effective ways to maintain this motivation is through setting high goals and ambitions for the future. Girls who are able to clearly articulate their goals for the future and who maintain the belief that their goals are attainable through hard work tend to experience far less decline in academic motivation during early adolescence. 

Because Carwyn is able to consider and share her long-term goals with so much confidence, she is able to influence her peer group including her cheer team and girls in her classes to dream big and work hard in pursuit of their dreams too. She now knows that simply believing that she can do anything she puts her mind is an important catalyst for realizing her full potential. 

Play Like a Girl is helping girls like Carwyn step up, realize their dreams, and find their place as leaders in the world. 

Follow #PotentialRealized on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Ryleigh: Giving Girls a Voice and Hope for the Future

“Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact” puts the spotlight on five amazing middle school students whose shared love of STEM and sports transcends their differences. These young women — all Play Like a Girl program participants — are true embodiments of our determination to create a world where girls believe in endless possibilities. Meet all of our “Potential Realized” honorees here.

Name, age

Ryleigh, 11

School

Rutland Middle 

Hometown

Mt. Juliet

Favorite Sport

Boxing

Favorite STEM Subject

Mathematics

Words you live by

“I think beauty comes from knowing who you actually are. That’s real beauty to me.” —Ellen DeGenerous

Your hero 

My mom is my hero. She works super hard for my sister and me!

Ryleigh, age 11, has been boxing for just a few months. When she puts her gloves on she feels strong and confident. As she begins to hear the music in the gym and practice her drills, she becomes determined and focused. Click To Tweet

What is her superpower? Building people up and helping them feel strong and confident.

How is she potential, realized?

It’s never too early — or too late – to raise girls to be bold and courageous. That’s the story of 11 year-old Ryleigh who aspires to build a world free from gender bias, with equal voice and equal representation for girls everywhere. 

Ryleigh became a Student Ambassador at Play Like a Girl in 2019, with the goal to help give voice to girls in her school and community who don’t believe they have what it takes to succeed as athletes or scholars. Recently, she recalled her first time at a Play Like a Girl program and how much she enjoyed learning and trying new things--specifically, learning to turn failure into fearlessness.  

Because of the confidence she’s gained from her Play Like a Girl experience, Ryleigh told us she feels she can now “help change the way girls think about themselves and help them to be positive about what they can accomplish in STEM and in sports.”

Ryleigh is new to boxing which she says helps her get regular exercise while building a stronger relationship with her mother, Ashley, who introduced her to the sport. Boxing also has taught her to be more introspective. A Mt. Juliet native, she says that boxing like the female STEM role models she’s met during her time at Play Like a Girl inspired her commitment to being extra supportive of other girls her age. 

“I want girls to know they can do anything they put their minds to,” she said. “I want to help them follow their dreams and learn to never give up, and to celebrate one another. When girls come together, we are stronger and better. We are unstoppable!"

Ryleigh loves math but initially feared the very concept of coding. Then, she had the opportunity to code a fun game with the girls she met at Play Like a Girl STEM+ Camp which she believes is a distinct skill that will lead her to a job in her chosen field some day.

In the past year, Ryleigh has continued to learn more coding skills at her school as well as in STEM+ Saturday makerspace labs at Microsoft and Play Like a Girl. According to Ryleigh, coding events like these have helped to build skills she will need to be successful in high school, college, career and beyond.

“I am a nice person who likes to meet new people and make new friends. I am caring and like to help people through their troubles,” Ryleigh said. “The biggest thing that keeps me motivated is the fact that I have a little sister. She is watching.”

Meet all of our Potential Realized honorees. And share their profiles on Twitter with the hashtag #PotentialRealized.

Follow #PotentialRealized on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Hadley: A Free Spirit Bravely Growing Into The Best Version of Herself

“Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact” puts the spotlight on five amazing middle school students whose shared love of STEM and sports transcends their differences. These young women — all Play Like a Girl program participants — are true embodiment of our determination to create a world where girls believe in endless possibilities. Meet all of our “Potential Realized” honorees here.

Name, age 

Hadley, 12

School 

HG Hill Middle

Hometown

Nashville

Favorite sport 

Volleyball

Favorite STEM subject 

Technology

Words you live by 

“When girls are educated, their countries become stronger and more prosperous.” —Michelle Obama

Video: This student creates space for girls to be free

How is she potential, realized?

“It’s a place where I can be myself.” That’s the way HG Hill Middle School student Hadley emphatically describes her experience as a camper at Play Like a Girl last summer. Hadley, who is an independent thinker and all-around ball of happiness, pushes other girls in her space to be free, have confidence in their abilities and express themselves without conforming to the mainstream.

“Play Like a Girl has taught me how to be free and express myself without worrying about what others think,” she told us. Hadley, like many students her age, was somewhat averse to science and math when she started camp. But she loved the arts including liberal arts, fine arts, music, design-thinking and language arts. Some might even describe her as a walking comedy show or music playlist. However, Hadley had never known art to work in concert with other areas of STEM until her music production class.

“By integrating elements of art into the camp experience, we believe that students can use both sides of their brains—analytical and creative—to become the best thinkers of tomorrow,” said Play Like a Girl founder and CEO Dr. Kim. “The arts are critical components to innovation, so we seek opportunities like this to incorporate the artistic and design-related skills and thinking processes to student-learning in STEM because it’s important for students like Hadley to see the limitless possibilities available to them.”

The Nashville native is on a clear path to becoming the best possible version of herself and encourages other girls her age to do the same. Her friends from summer camp describe her as a wildflower: “Hadley is always so funny. I admire her confidence. She’s a free spirit, unbothered by the naysayers. She’s okay with Hadley,” said her peers.

Hadley not only commands respect and admiration in the classroom. She also captivates those who follow her onto the soccer field. She’s candid and honest about her own personal challenges, including dealing with failure which can be paralyzing for girls at her developmental stage.

According to researchers, more than half of girls lose confidence at puberty and seven in 10 girls avoid trying new things because they are afraid to fail. Eight in 10 of the girls surveyed said the pressure to please others and be perfect led them to fear mistakes, while 75% pointed to social media as a key contributor to that feeling.

Luckily, Hadley embraces failure as fuel to build her confidence. Since as early as she can remember, Hadley says her mother has encouraged her to rethink set-backs—whether missing a game-winning goal or failing a major test—as a way to build confidence and keep going. It’s an opportunity that she describes as “the bounce back.”

Throughout the year, Hadley has unknowingly created an environment where other girls feel free to try new things, make mistakes and are confident enough to try again. “I love Play Like a Girl because I can have fun and express myself,” she said. “When you’re there, you can just be yourself.”


Play Like a Girl presents ‘Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact’

Happy New Year -- 2020!

Turning the page on the past decade coincides with a page turning for Play Like a Girl. To kick off 2020, we are celebrating and telling the stories of girls from our programs, introducing a new(ish) website and expanding our partnerships and programming.

Having recently celebrated 15 years since our founding, we know what each new year represents. This year, in particular, is the culmination of a lot of hard work, strategic decisions and deep commitments. Our 2020 campaign is the result of months spent working to articulate what Play Like a Girl is all about, where we want to go and how we can best serve our girls into the future.

We are determined to focus on our mission and keep the girls we serve at the forefront of everything we do. How? We have laid out our vision for 2020 in two simple yet powerful words: Potential Realized.

For every project we take on — whether it’s summer camp, our annual conference, industry field trips and behind-the-scenes tours, lunchtime mentoring at local schools or social media campaigns — we do it all to help our girls recognize and reach their limitless potential.

Our evolved brand and strategic direction represent this vision. That’s why we decided to focus on the stories of phenomenal young women with “Potential Realized: A Mission with Impact” to kick off the new year. The new campaign conveys the idea of growth, of real progress. Our new website is designed to be a welcoming, informative space. A place for you to learn more about our team, our work and how exactly we’re making good on our promise to champion equality and economic opportunity for all girls. We hope you return often for insights and information. 

Our founder and CEO Dr. Kim and her assistant Hannah pored through applications from past program participants to pick five young women who deserve the spotlight. The resulting profiles tell the stories of young women who have themselves evolved since joining their very first Play Like a Girl program or event.

These young women are middle school students who love sports, young women who fail as often as they succeed because they’ve learned to view failure as necessary. These are stories of young women who are changing the game on and off the field of play. These are young women with crazy dreams about their futures in this big, bold world and crazier beliefs about their abilities to change that big, bold world. These young women are shaping their communities and, in their own way, altering life for every girl everywhere. Theirs are stories which deserve to be told.

Meet all of our Potential Realized honorees--our 2020 student ambassadors. And share their profiles on Twitter with the hashtag #PotentialRealized.

Follow #PotentialRealized on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.