For 8-year-old Blessing and 11-year-old Akeelah, friendship transcends many levels.
Living at opposite ends of a dead-end street, these two girls and their families became fast friends as they discussed shared experiences, from the adoptions that brought both girls to their current families to the many difficulties related to their unique medical conditions. As Akeelah was diagnosed with Sickle Cell and Blessing lives with a heart condition, the girls often lean on one another for motivation and friendship on days good and bad.
This year, the girls found support not only in each other but in their new Team IMPACT teams at the University of Rhode Island. It took little time for Akeelah, matched with the URI Women’s Volleyball team, to share her positive experience with her friend Blessing. A few months later, Blessing was matched with the URI Women’s Softball team. Both girls have had amazing experiences with teammates and coaches alike.
Akeelah’s mom, Lisa has already seen positive changes in her daughter through this experience. “Akeelah has loved feeling special and a part of something bigger! Team Impact and URI Women’s Volleyball are impacting her sense of self in a big way!”
The two friends recently attended the National Girls & Women in Sports Day clinic hosted by all URI women’s teams, showing dozens of young girls what it means to get in the game. Akeelah and Blessing were able to attend early, getting some special time with both teams together, and event fit in a dance party, before participating drills and fun activities led by each URI team.
URI Softball’s Assistant Coach Christine Akcer reflected on the day. “National Girls & Women in Sports Day is an amazing day where girls can be inspired to try new or different activities they may have never tried before. Our crew at Rhode Island puts on a great event where young girls have an opportunity to have a fun filled day working with many of our Women’s teams. Blessing and Akleelah were able to share the day with friends and family. They met and played with members of each other’s teams. Seeing the huge turnout at Rhode Island this year shows how bright the future is for girls and women in sports!”
We can’t wait to see where this experience takes this dynamic duo, through their friendships with each other and the extended community they are building together.