In many countries, sports bras are often overlooked as a basic necessity and are deemed a luxury. Sports bras are either hard to come by or oftentimes put at the end of the list when it comes to expenses. Due to the inaccessibility and high expense of sports bras, Sarah Dwyer-Shick created the Sports Bra Project. The Sports Bra Project recognizes that a lack of sports bras presents a barrier to female participation in sports, limiting opportunities for inclusion. With more women engaged in sports, more women are empowered and open to possible athletic careers that present a pathway out of poverty.
What is the Sports Bra Project?
Dwyer-Shick founded the Sports Bra Project in 2018 when she discovered the need for sports bras in Namibia, Africa. Originally, she brought a few sports bras to local women participating in youth soccer. She then discovered that even players on the Namibian National Women’s Soccer Team did not have access to sports bras. Dwyer-Shick realized the greater need for sports bras all around Africa, not just Namibia. From this revelation, the nonprofit was born.
The Sports Bra Project provides sports bras to people in 26 different countries. The organization collects sports bras and distributes them to partner organizations, many of which are located in Africa. Through these efforts, the project helps female athletes overcome one of the main barriers to participation in sports — proper attire. Without the needed clothing, many people are hesitant to join in sports. For those who do join, improper athletic clothing hinders their performance and can even lead to pain or injuries.
The Sports Bra Project has already collected more than 4,500 sports bras for athletes in need. Even ordinary individuals can contribute to the cause by donating sports bras and setting up collection campaigns. More than 50 soccer teams in the United States have held sports bra drives to collect sports bras for those in need all over the world. The nonprofit also allows handwritten notes to be attached to the bras to make donations more personal.
How Sports Bras Help Poverty
The Sports Bra Project was set up because something as simple as an article of clothing can provide countless opportunities to young girls and women around the world. Although sports bras seem like an added expense, sports bras can decrease poverty.
Sports bras address the gap between males and females in sports, which has a catalyst effect. Sports activities keep children off the streets, provide a possible career path and provide a healing outlet for those who have experienced trauma. Regardless of the reasoning behind participation, sports foster important traits that ensure a brighter future for participants. “Teamwork, leadership and confidence” are among these traits.
Sports bras decrease poverty by reducing the gender gap in sports while uplifting and empowering females with valuable skills that go beyond the sports arena. Proper clothing encourages women to participate in sports and empowers women to step into arenas typically dominated by males. By reducing the gender gap and supporting females to develop careers in sports, women are empowered to rise out of poverty.
– Maddie Rhodes