Local Organizations Engaging Girls

by aglowka January 16, 2020 comments

Local Organizations Engaging Girls

Posted: January 2020

Our last post explored trends in physical activity and organized sport among girls, both regionally and nationally. While girls in King County participate in organized sport at the same rate as boys, there are differences in overall rates of physical activity among girls. While we weren’t able to find clear reasons for these discrepancies, they reveal clear opportunities to engage girls in meaningful, developmentally-appropriate physical activity outside of the organized sport setting.

In King County, many organizations prioritize the unique barriers and opportunities girls have in physical activity, sport, and outdoor recreation settings. Here, we highlight six organizations committed to addressing physical activity among female youth in tandem with empowerment, leadership, and other social-emotional supports.

National Organizations with Local Chapters


  • GirlTrek is the largest public health nonprofit for African-American women and girls in the United States, and operates a chapter in the Seattle area. GirlTrek encourages women to use walking as a first step to inspire healthy living, families, and communities. Members also mobilize their communities to support local and national policy to increase physical activity through walking, improve access to safe places to walk, protect and reclaim green spaces, and improve the walkability and built environments of 50 high-need communities across the U.S.

  • In King County: Co-founder Vanessa Garrison grew up walking in Seattle’s Central District. GirlTrek hosts walks around Seattle, which can be found via GirlTrek’s Find a Walk tool.

  • In the news: The Seattle Times - Ask an expert: How can Seattle make more neighborhoods accessible to walking?

Skate Like a Girl

  • Skate Like a Girl empowers individuals, especially young womxn, to become strong, confident leaders who promote and implement equity through the vehicle of skateboarding. The organization believes that skateboarding is a tool to build confidence, resilience, and foster an inclusive community. Skate Like a Girl operates chapters in Seattle, Portland, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

  • In King County: Seattle is home to the headquarters of Skate Like a Girl, as well as the majority of programs and activities. Flagship programs include Summer Camps, Ladies' Nights, 12&Under lessons, school-based enrichment, and Youth Employment Skateboarding.

  • In the news: The Seattle Times - Skate Like a Girl welcomes everyone on deck, stressing acceptance, confidence and a couple kinds of safety

Girls on the Run (Puget Sound)

  • Girls on the Run is a program for 8 to 13-year-old girls that promotes girl empowerment by teaching life skills through lessons and running. The organization is dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. A recent independent study found that Girls on the Run’s intentional life skills curriculum and highly trained coaches positively impact girls’ lives by helping them increase their self-confidence, develop healthy relationships, and feel good about themselves.

  • In King County: Girls on the Run of Puget Sound was founded in 2002 and currently serves 3,300 girls per year at schools and community centers throughout King and N.E. Pierce Counties.

  • In the news: Q13 News - 2,500 girls participate in Girls on the Run 5K



  • ZGiRLS is a mentorship program founded by Olympic and NCAA athletes. Through a curriculum designed by sport psychologists, professional athletes, curriculum developers, and mental health counselors, the ZGiRLS gives girls the tools they need to overcome their own internal barriers (like self-doubt, fear, and insecurity) so that they can navigate adolescence and graduate into adulthood with confidence, self-worth, and ambition. 

  • In King County: ZGiRLS was founded in Seattle by Olympian, former national champion, and 10-year U.S. Ski Team veteran, Libby Ludlow, and fellow Seattle-ite, former NCAA All-American skier from the University of Vermont, Jilyne Higgins. In 2015, ZGiRLS expanded nationwide.

  • In the news: KING5 - Z Girls builds confidence in young athletes


Local Organizations


  • AGE UP is an organization by and for coaches, players, and alumni to strengthen the youth ultimate community in the south end of Seattle, particularly for girls. Over the past several years, ultimate has grown dramatically in popularity in Southeast Seattle, which is home to the highest proportions of low-income, foreign-born, and non-white residents in the metropolitan area. AGE UP meets youth in their cultural context, through ultimate, in order to connect them to opportunities and resources, as we. as increase access to physical activity, mentorship, and authentic leadership roles that extend their reach as agents in the community. By combining skill development, social justice education ,and healing within the cultural context of the Southend, ultimate community AGE UP is building power among youth living at the intersection of race and class oppression. AGE UP envisions a world where all communities have the resources they need to be healthy and powerful, and believe that centering the leadership and expertise of young people of color is crucial to getting there.

  • In the news: Seattle Channel - Community Stories: AGE UP

Oiselle Bras For Girls

  • The mission of Bras for Girls is to donate sports bras to girls, targeting late elementary to middle school girls - an age at which some girls choose to stop participating in sport due to discomfort with their changing bodies. In addition to bra donation, Oiselle's goal is to share educational content with a wide spectrum of girls and women about body development and how to accurately choose and fit a sports bra. Oiselle has donated over 7,400 bras to middle school girls in need, and plans to keep growing the program every year. New since 2019, Oiselle is building special bra inventory for Bras for Girls: the Get Sporty Bra which is part of their Fabric Forward waste reduction campaign. 

  • In the news: Outside Online - Oiselle Thinks Sports Bras Can Keep Girls in the Outdoors

If there are more organizations you would like us to add to this list, please email us at playkc@uw.edu