116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Seven Iowa groups that support girls get grants from Women Lead Change
Can Play Sports, founded in Central Iowa, has expanded to Coralville
Melissa Clarke-Wharff started Can Play Sports after feeling frustrated her son, Jack, who suffered several strokes as a child, didn’t have many options for sports and recreation adapted to his needs.
Ten years later, Can Play Sports has expanded from the Des Moines area, where it serves nearly 1,000 children and 500 adults, to Coralville, with activities now being offered at GreenState Family Fieldhouse.
“It’s about eliminating barriers to play and giving these kids opportunity to be active and socially engaged in their communities,” Clarke-Wharff said in a phone interview last week.
Can Play Sports is one of seven recipients of grants from the Girls with Goals Fund administered by Women Lead Change, a non-partisan, nonprofit organization for the advancement, development and promotion of women, their organizations and to impacting the economy and future workforce.
Women Lead Change provided Can Play Sports $1,000 toward the HERS program, which stands for Health, Empowerment, Respect in Sports. The program works with girls in grades fourth through seventh to provide mentoring on subjects including health and healthy living and also opportunities to learn new sports.
“HERS is relatively new, ”Clarke-Wharff said. “We started it this year and we’re trying to ramp it up going into 2023.”
Programming will start in Central Iowa, but expand to Coralville in the second half of 2023, she said. The grant money will be used to put together the curriculum, get equipment, pay for rental space and provide participants with some gear, she said.
The grant amount varies by request, but average awards were between $500 to $1,000, according to Amy Eaton, director of marketing and strategic development for Women Lead Change. Other Women Lead Change Girls With Goals Fund grant recipients are:
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa — "I Am Enough" mentoring program
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley — Career Navigator/Exploration- Construction Industry
- Boys & Girls Clubs of the Cedar Valley — SMART Girls
- Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa — Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa program aide training
- Marion Independent School Foundation & Alumni Association — Ricochet: An Extreme Leadership Adventure at Vernon Middle School
- YMCA of Greater Des Moines — Girls on the Run coach recruitment
Award recipients were selected by a committee of Women Lead Change partners and community volunteers, the organization said in a news release.
“These recipients all boast missions that ensure that girls (K-8) have an opportunity to gain critical skills that will support their growth as women leaders,” Women Lead Change reported.
The Fund is distributed through the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, where tax-deductible contributions can be made online.
Comments: (319) 339-3157; firstname.lastname@example.org