Photo: Soccer Without Borders

Fact: Girls who play sports are healthier, more educated, happier, and less likely to get pregnant or stay in an abusive relationship. And while we may take for granted the availability of women’s sports teams in our communities (or not even think about them at all), not all girls around the world are so lucky. With a new Indiegogo fundraising campaign, Activyst is looking to make a difference in underprivileged girls’ lives by creating access to team sports.

The name is a combination of the words active and catalyst, “because when girls are active, it’s a catalyst for change in their lives,” the company’s website states. Founder Katie Rock came up with the idea after meeting some local young Nicaraguan girls while on vacation. They saw her around town — running, surfing, swimming — and were shocked to see a girl being active. They told her there weren’t any chances for girls to play sports in their community. After coming across a locally made fabric called “macen,” the idea hit: She would make athletic bags out of this material for active women back home to help raise money to help these girls abroad get active.

Activyst: Help Girls Play Sports from activyst on Vimeo.

So why sports? Research has found athletics to be especially beneficial for young women. One study found that middle school students who played sports reported higher satisfaction with life, and girls were 30 times more likely to describe their health as fair or poor when they were not playing on a sports team. Other research has found that girls who play team sports in high school are 20 percent more likely to graduate and 20 percent more likely to go to college. Girls who play sports in high school are also seven percent less likely to become obese, and female athletes are half as likely to become pregnant while still in high school.

After joining up with friend and Activyst co-founder Leigh Orne, Rock returned to Nicaragua to research (along with the World Health Organization) the barriers preventing girls from playing sports. They found that lack of funding, opportunities, and safe places to play were the biggest issues keeping girls on the sidelines.

Earlier this month, Activyst launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund the beginning of their bag production and reached the initial $25,000 fundraising goal in three days. That money alone will allow them to start producing bags and start construction on a soccer field for girls in partnership with Soccer Without Borders Nicaragua. If they reach their next goal of $50,000 in the next 24 days, they’ll be funding a girls’ soccer team in Uganda. After that, a female running team in Ethiopia. Rock says they hope to fund future projects in other countries, too.

The signature Active Bag can be pre-ordered through the Indiegogo campaign for $145, and it was specially designed by the company’s founders as the bag they always wanted but never had (it has special holding spots for shoes, a yoga mat, and a water bottle). Other options range from $20 donations (for a shout-out on their website), to $40 (for a cosmetic bag) or $85 (for a tote bag), to bag packages ($500–$1,200), to an $800 weekend beach getaway in California (and a bag, of course). They even have a high-roller option ($2,500) to “choose your own adventure” and support Activyst in a bigger way of your choosing.

Want to get involved? Check out Activyst’s Indiegogo campaign here and help them make a difference in the lives of young women worldwide.

What’s your favorite fitness-related fundraising campaign? Share with us in the comments below or start a conversation with us on Twitter!