Empowering girls through athletics

July 31, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
She won our hearts as a member of the 1996 U.S. Gymnastics Team, nicnamed "The Magnificent 7." The team won the gold medal and she became the first African-American female gymnast to win an individual Olympic medal. Olympian Dominique Dawes tells us why getting girls to participate in sports can benefit them both physically and psychologically.

How and why did she get started in gymnastics?
She was a super high energy six-year old, so her mother enrolled her and her sister and me in a gymnastics class. She's been a gymnast every since.

How have gymnastics and winning the gold medal influenced her life?
Being a athlete has taught her discipline. Winning on the international level also taught her humility.

What are the life skills that are developed when youth get involved with gymnastics or other sports?
Athletics help build self-esteem; discipline and goal setting skills

Why is she so passionate about helping children use sports to develop self-esteem?
Despite her success, as a young girl she struggled with self-esteem issues from time to time. She believes that if she can touch children with her story it's worth it.

Advice for parents who want to help get their kids involved in sports:

  • Explore various activities
  • Attend sporting events to inspire activity
  • Play the sports with your children

About Dominique Dawes
Dawes and the U.S. gymnastics team won the Olympic gold in 1996, capturing the world's attention and earning the nickname "The Magnificent Seven." That year, Dawes became the first African-American female gymnast to win an individual Olympic medal. She works now as a motivational speaker, focusing mainly on the topics of health and physical wellness and self-empowerment in women and children. She has worked directly with or served as a spokesperson for the Girl Scouts of America, the Women's Sports Foundation, the American Heart Association and the Department of Health and Human Services. Her new post-gymnastics passion is empowering youth and adult audiences, and she has put out a motivational CD, entitled "Envision." She will head back to the Olympic Games this year, as a correspondent reporting for Yahoo! Sports.

For more bio information, visit: dominiquedawes.com

VIDEO: Dominique Dawes on Y! Sports - Women's Gymnastics Team Assessment

VIDEO: Dominique Dawes on Y! Sports - Men's Gymnastics Team Assessment


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