Cary, NC – A growing concern for young people is a lack of athletic options in school and in their extracurricular lives. But a project created by a local Girl Scout aimed to address this, earning her the organization’s top prize along the way.
Importance of Athletics
Heather Erlemann, a Cary resident and senior at Apex High School, created the project “Kicks for Chicks” to get more athletic opportunities for young women, specifically soccer.
Erlemann’s project earned her the Girl Scouts’ Gold Award, which only 5 percent of Girl Scouts nationwide achieve.
“My passion is soccer and with the Gold Award, you’re supposed to work on something you’re interested in,” Erlemann said. “There are a lot of kids who didn’t have access to athletics programs or training so I wanted to create something that they could take with them all their lives.”
The project involved Erlemann partnering with the local Boys and Girls Club and creating a way to teach girls about soccer and how it can be played for recreation and be used for physical fitness while working with Kelly Webb, currently the Wake Boys and Girls Club’s director of grants and donor relations.
To supplement this, Erlemann provided the club with soccer drill books and set up clinics for running to go along with the same.
“I wanted to give the kids something they could experience all their lives. This was just planting a seed,” Erlemann said.
Erlemann also held an equipment drive to collect soccer gear for the participating children to use.
Creating Healthy Living
To go hand-in-hand with the physical activity side of fitness, Erlemann also included guides for proper nutrition in with the soccer workshops and guides.
“I talked through nutrition with the kids after soccer lessons and created worksheets to make the information more engaging for younger people,” she said. “There was a new nutrition initiative at the Boys and Girls Club when I started up there so I wanted to build off of that.”
The nutrition and athletics paired well together, Erlemann said, since her ultimate goal was to emphasize healthy living for these kids when they might not learn about it otherwise.
Erlemann said her focus on soccer comes from a lifetime of playing, largely spurred on by her father who was also a soccer player.
“It was something we could do together,” she said. “Since I could walk, I’ve been playing soccer.”
Story by Michael Papich. Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines .