Boxgirls Roadwork: Girls and Women Running the City

Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a finalist.

Boxgirls Roadwork: Girls and Women Running the City

Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The traditional training techniques of amateur boxing paired with urban running to create a bold new experience for girls and women.

About You
Project Street Address
Project City
Project Province/State
Project Postal/Zip Code
Project Country
Your idea


Year the initative began (yyyy)


YouTube Upload

<embed style="width:400px; height:326px;" id="VideoPlayback" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="" flashvars=""> </embed><embed style="width:400px; height:326px;" id="VideoPlayback" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="" flashvars=""> </embed>
<embed style="width:400px; height:326px;" id="VideoPlayback" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="" flashvars=""> </embed>

Project URL (include HTTP://)
Positioning of your initiative on the mosaic diagram:
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Stereotyping that excludes

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Use sport to build character

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic:

This field has not been completed

What is your signature innovation, your new idea, in one sentence?

The traditional training techniques of amateur boxing paired with urban running to create a bold new experience for girls and women.

Describe your innovation. What makes your idea unique and different than others doing work in the field?

Boxers run. Every morning very early boxers pull on their hooded sweatshirts and hit the road for their roadwork. Not all runners box - but they should since it builds core stability, coordination and upper body strength which makes them stronger runners. We are building on our experience in running fun amateur boxing programmes for young women to build a new type of running programme which uses the tested traditional training techniques of boxing with the up to the nano second technology of Nike + to create a more complete sports experience for girls and young women in cities throughout the world. Sports programmes for women and girls that aim to increase self-confidence must, in our view, also provide the participants with the skills and self-belief that they can defend themselves. More than a boxing or a running club, Boxgirls Roadwork brings the best of these sports together and opens the world to our clubs to web enabled running challenges and networks.

What are the existing barriers, the biggest problem, your innovation is hoping to address/change?

Women's sports programmes talk about improving self-confidence but do not always include self-defence in their programmes. By bringing the best of traditional boxing training to the fun and community of running we will allow many more women to get active and be safe in their cities. Young sports leaders also need to know that they can protect themselves. Nothing is as unsettling than being afraid. To create young athlete leaders, we need to give them the assuredness of physical security.

Delivery Model: How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing?

We visit existing running & boxing clubs to bring them together and deliver cross training plans. We train trainers in our target cities to deliver the programme in their regions. We help clubs attract more female members and provide training on how to be successful at retaining girls and young women. We will share our existing training resources and videos through a web based platform and cds. We will host running events with boxing exercises where Boxgirls Roadwork clubs can challenge each other across the world through Nike+ but also get their families, neighbours and on line communities to join in. Alongside runs as public events we will host informational meetings at amateur boxing events and boxing exercises at major runs as a way to attract more members. Events will be inclusive. We will partner with other local organisations to encourage the girls and young women who are interested in the internet to learn computer skills - for work or for fun depending on their local need.

How do you plan to grow your innovation?

Once we have a core group of regional hubs: Berlin, Nairobi, Cape Town, Seattle, and Toronto (then Tokyo, Rio and London) and sufficient structures in place we should be able to accept new clubs. A larger membership base will itself create new opportunities for innovation as we can tap our members for ideas for events, school curricula, training plans and power song lists! We would provide the initial impulse for the regional hubs and support their organisational capacity building so that they can be self-sufficient and ultimately do outreach into their regions to start more Boxgirls Roadworks projects. We will also evolve our training materials to fit the various cultural and social situations of the girls we are reaching out to. Their videos and training plans will become part of the Boxgirls curriculum and passed on to new groups to improve upon. Our monitoring and evaluation practices will also evolve. We will integrate paralympic athletes in our events.

Provide one sentence describing your impact/intended impact.

Girls and Women improve health and self assuredness through running and boxing while learning computer skills to connect around the world.

What impact has your innovation had to date/or what is your intended impact? Exactly who are the beneficiaries?

Through our biweekly training, school events, tournaments and media outreach we have created an entirely new environment for girls to box in Berlin and in Germany. We can see this through the positive press and parent responses and the improving relationships with schools. Evaluation work carried out by students at the Humboldt University in Berlin and the German Sports University reported that the girls feel much safer and stronger after participating in our programmes and take a more proactive approach to their school life.
With a focused running programme like Boxgirls Roadwork we will be able to reach more young women and girls since the training is done in public on the road (rather than in a gym) and we can work on our goal of having more girls participating in sport and feeling secure in public spaces.
While Boxgirls Roadwork will appeal to a wide range of people, our target group is young women 12-26 from underserviced urban areas but many others benefit: school coaches etc

How many people have you served directly?

Over 40 girls through regular weekly training in Berlin. Over 60 girls through regular weekly training in Nairobi. Through demonstrations and school visits we have worked with over 300 girls over the last 3 years in Berlin as the Nairobi project grows the opportunity is even greater. With the addition of Roadwork we expect to have 20 for Berlin and 60 for Nairobi take part on average per week. Other cities would be similar. Once we have more schools involved the amounts will be much higher.

How many people have you served indirectly?

The girls and young women in our existing programmes radiate the lessons they have learned into their families and circles of friends. With the introduction of Nike+, girls with access to the internet will be able to pass this onto their online networks as well. While focused weekly training will have the greatest effect on our Boxgirls Roadwork members, others will benefit through taking part in sponsored runs (ca 1000 per year per city), through tournaments (ca 600 per year per city) and our school outreach programmes. We also help local educators, politicians and other social innovators in our cities by sharing good practice and helping others grow their programmes.

Please list any other measures reflective of the impact of your innovation?

Many girls stop smoking and adopt more healthy eating behaviours based on positive peer pressure.
Sports journalists and local politicians are more informed and advocate for girls' sports needs better.
Our young women are recognised in their community as innovators and leaders by the press and government. e.g. winning a Star of Sports award 2007 and being chosen as a model project in the UN Year of Sport and Physical Activity 2005. Our Nairobi club performed at UN World Habitat Day.

What are the main barriers to creating or achieving your impact?

Discrimination against girls and young women, not allowing them free time to develop themselves in some countries
Girls chaotic schedules which make it difficult for girls-focussed programmes to keep their members for long enough to achieve a lasting effect.
Finding coaching staff with the gender, pedagogical and strategic skills to track the changes in their young members.
The need for indoor facilities during winter months and storage of club gear when we do have our own gym.

How is your initiative financed (or how do you expect your initiative will be financed)?

The original Boxgirls project has been financed through its members, the German Children and Youth Foundation, the Landessportbund and the German Ministry of the Interior. For Boxgirls Roadwork we will raise money from our members, partner with local schools, approach Nike for Nike+ support, Women Win for a start up grant, work with UN Habitat to make the case that running and boxing as urban sports have a role to play in their "safer cities" programme, recruit paying members and have a strong internet presence with the possibility to accept world wide donations from other runners and boxers who want to show solidarity. As we collect evidence of our effectiveness we will approach further corporate partners who align with our goals.

If known, provide information on your finances and organization.

We are currently all volunteers. We have managed to grow Boxgirls to a vibrant stable organisation on a very small budget and many volunteer hours. We will start with small budgets for each city for Boxgirls Roadwork. These initial budgets would include resources for the Nike + infrastructure (hopefully in kind), computer access, communications (video, internet, phone), volunteer incentives, training of volunteers, marketing, networking and basic sports equipment.

We plan to create a volunteer driven organisation with part time paid network support and contract work where required. e.g. coaching development and participatory evaluation

What is the potential demand for your innovation?

Running clubs and boxing clubs exist in all major cities of the world. We would like to have 4 sites running (Berlin, Nairobi, Cape Town or Durban, and Seattle or San Francisco) by the middle of 2008 and another 3 sites by 2009!
Once these regional hubs are in place and able to do their own training of trainers we will reach out to more schools and clubs to take part. There is demand there but we need to stabilise our structures first.

What are the main barriers to financial sustainability?

*We will need to have enough members in high income countries to subsidise the members in low income countries to launch the programme to gather the evidence to make the case to other funders.
*Nike+ Infrastructure will have to be provided to girls and young women in many disadvantaged cities as they would not be able to pay for it themselves.
*Sports projects which focus on individuals and not teams do not create the mass numbers that some corporate sponsors expect.

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

Cross country running was my passion as a child. I wasn't a great runner but I loved the peace and calmness that would come to me running through Vancouver's cedar forests where I grew up in Canada. In Toronto, I discovered amateur boxing as a beautiful sport of rhythm, speed and tactics, far away from the bloody brutality of the professional game. I also got into the best shape of my life through boxing training and learned about myself through constant confrontation and collaboration with others in the ring. In Berlin I boxed and then decided to start a boxing club for women where women would coach and lead. Boxgirls Berlin became a success with the work of many other creative and hard working women and girls. In 2007 in Nairobi we launched a new Boxgirls site in partnership with women boxers from Eastlands and realised we could reach even more women by inviting them to come run with us. In 2007 I first saw Nike + and loved the idea of being able to capture and compare running data with training partners all over the world. We decided to have the Kenyan and German girls workout "together" through running with Nike+ and create the basis for more exchanges and sharing in the future.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material.

I was born in London, UK and grew in Vancouver before studying Philosophy and Political Theory in Toronto & Berlin. My mom is a dedicated volunteer for amateur hockey and I was a volunteer baseball coach and umpire in my teens. So I had always known how sport could create social change by forming young leaders since I had benefited. When I moved to Berlin I became active in my community by starting a sports club that is also a sort of laboratory for creating participatory democracy.

How did you hear about this contest and what is your main incentive to participate? (this is confidential)

Ziba, ziba, ziba.

I am interested in the model and being part of something new (early adapter). I also want to meet other social innovators and grow my project with their advice and networks.

and of course, I want to be a finalist after receiving and acting on lots of great advice and good questions... :)

Affiliation (please list all that apply)

Free University Berlin