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Social network promotes girls and sports

Karen Hawthorne is a health and lifestyle writer and producer in Toronto, Canada. Her work has appeared in print and online for publications including Glow, Homemakers, and theNational Post.

Online community for girl athletes

With rising obesity rates for kids and more time spent sitting in front of the TV and computer, adults need to encourage young people to get off the couch and get active. A new online community and social network has found its niche inspiring girls to participate in sports. Here's more on Vivo Girls Sports, Inc.

Online community for girl athletes

Training, stories, and more

Young, athletic girls now have a place to gather, share their stories and get advice on training from the experts — and it's all at their fingertips online. Vivo Girls Sports, Inc. (vivoGS) has launched its social network for girls ages 13 to 24 years old who share a passion for sports. The site has a mix of user-generated, aggregated and original content, as well as video interviews with athletes, doctors and other professionals. A personal trainer gives tips on how to do the perfect plank, the killer yoga move that strengthens the core and works the entire body.

Another video features Team Tibco cyclist Alison Starnes talking about her entry into sports, first in tennis and then moving onto the endurance sport of cycling: "You have to have that drive to really get out there, to get on your bike and work hard," she says.

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Girl athletes now have online support

There are networks and resources for boys, but little available for girls, says vivoGS founder and CEO Marilou McFarlane, a competitive athlete, soccer coach and social media expert. "Our teenage daughters were frustrated about the lack of support and acknowledgement in sports for girls." She realized that a social network focused specifically on young female athletes did not exist anywhere.

Reaching out to all American girls

McFarlane decided to fill this need by building a community where young women like her daughters -- one of whom just began her freshman year as a college D1 soccer player -- could talk about their athletic ups and downs, offer tips and inspiration, learn from trusted experts, and share stories, clothing and reviews with other like-minded girls. There are 25 million girls in the US between the ages of 13 and 24, she adds, and vivoGS' mission is to reach them all.

Strong Facebook presence inspires

The response has been enthusiastic. The vivoGS Facebook fan page already has over 40,000 fans, placing it in the top 1 percent of all fan pages on Facebook. "Today, female athletes make up almost 50 percent of all athletes in the United States. With these kinds of numbers, you would think society (as it worships its male athletes) would at least make room for us. But sadly, this is far from the case," writes vivoGS member Lindsey Weaver, age 21. Some young women share words of inspiration, however: "Everyone is capable of doing a lot more than they usually give themselves credit for. I am a firm believer that you can do anything you set your mind to. As long as you try, it should come naturally."

More on girl athletes

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