GIRL POWER

But evidence abounds that sports participation reaps benefits beyond improving one’s fitness. Studies consistently demonstrate, for instance, that a girl who plays sports is less likely to get pregnant, stay in an abusive relationship, or engage in risky sexual behavior. She is also less likely to drop out of school, smoke, use drugs, or suffer from depression.

Studies demonstrate that a girl who plays sports is less likely to get pregnant or engage in risky sexual behavior.

“What excites me about sports is that they are a small and simply way to address the very complex issues that girls around the world face,” Rock tells Ecouterre. “They can be a catalyst for change in girls’ lives.”

Plus, improving the lives of girls can be transformative to society as a whole. “When girls suffer, so does society; disease, illiteracy, birth rates, maternal mortality, and health costs soar,” she says. “On the other hand, healthy, educated, successful girls pass these traits on to their children, and reinvest skills and capital in their communities.”

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BAGGING CHANGE

Rock and her colleagues spent a year collaborating with a former Betsey Johnson and Quiksilver designer to create a functional yet fashionable product that would meet the needs of active women.

With every bag purchased, Activyst will fund a nonprofit that provides sports opportunities for girls across the globe.

Activyst’s inaugural range includes a capacious sports bag that accommodates both a yoga mat and shoes ($145), a multipurpose tote ($85), and a cosmetics case ($40). As a hat-tip to the company’s roots, the company uses a form of woven polypropylene known as “macen,” a robust and waterproof “material of the people” that Nicaraguans adapt into everything from hammocks to coffee sacks.

The company’s goal? To use the sale of its bags to support nonprofits that provide sports opportunities for girls across the globe. Through IndieGoGo, Activyst has managed to raise more than $56,000—enough to allow Soccer Without Borders build a soccer field in Nicaragua and incorporate vocational-training classes into a soccer program in Uganda. For its $75,000 milestone, the company plans to help the Girls Gotta Run Foundation make female running a part of Ethiopian culture by training and funding the village of Bekoji’s first female coach.

+ Activyst on IndieGoGo

+ Activyst