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connect / 2016

LA Derby Dolls: Promoting Social and Emotional Support Through Women's Team Sports

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by LA Derby Dolls

Sustain and grow the Derby Dolls training and competition program as well as expand outreach to women who will benefit from the social and emotional support inherent in team sport and community.

Please describe your project proposal.

The LA2050 grant will allow the LA Derby Dolls to make infrastructure improvements to its training and events facility, and increase outreach, ensuring that the organization can continue to offer adult and young women programs that promote social and emotional support inherent in team sports and from a women-focused organization.

Which of the connect metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Social & emotional support
  • Rates of volunteerism

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • East LA
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to connect?

The LA Derby Dolls is an all-volunteer organization that reflects the diversity of women throughout Los Angeles. Within the organization, league-members find the fellowship and camaraderie that come with team sports, in an environment that is unique to the Derby Dolls community. The LA Derby Dolls will help achieve LA’s CONNECT goal by increasing the number of women in LA who receive sufficient social and emotional support.

Team sports provide for increased emotional wellness resulting from an inherent support system and increased social health gained through developing teamwork and relationship building. Participants in team sports create closer bonds to others, become more accepting of diversity, become more adept at facing challenges as a member of a team, are more responsive to teaching, and demonstrate more confidence in leadership. However, team sports are less accessible as adults get older, with women’s team sports being even scarcer.

For over 13 years, the LA Derby Dolls has provided a space for women across Los Angeles to find social and emotional support among other women while competing together in a physically and mentally challenging sport. Modern roller derby is unique in that it is a fast-action contact sport led by women as opposed to so many other sports that present as a ‘women’s alternative’ to a male-dominated sport. The pro-women attitude is galvanized by the Derby Dolls’ focus on issues of women’s empowerment, body positivity, and inclusivity. The result is a safe community where women support each other in their successes, encourage each other through their defeats, and receive the same in return - whether on or off the track. It is common for women who have retired from the training and competition aspect of the organization to continue to volunteer with the organization because of the strong bonds that they have formed and because they continue to believe in the importance of the mission of the Derby Dolls.

The LA Derby Dolls are dedicated to ensuring that women in Los Angeles continue to have the same opportunity to increase self-confidence, positive self-image, empathy, and a strong social and emotional support network from our organization that hundreds of members - past and present - have benefited from. We plan to grow the program’s reach to women who do not know that the Derby Dolls is available to them and make our space available to a greater number of LA women and juniors through the availability of scholarships.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

In order to be successful in its contribution to LA2050’s CONNECT goal, the Derby Dolls will need to demonstrate (1) increased program participation by adults and juniors, and (2) continuing social and emotional support benefits of our current and future members.

To assess achievement of these measures, we will track the following:

  • Number of new members joining the adult and juniors programs annually
  • Number of retiring members from the adult and juniors programs annually
  • Number of members from the immediately surrounding neighborhoods
  • Annual survey of members assessing the quality of social-connectedness and emotional benefit received from league involvement.
  • ‘Exit’ surveys of retiring members which assess:
    • reason for retirement from the league
    • benefit received from social and emotional support during their time with the Derby Dolls
    • likelihood that social and emotional support network will continue following retirement

Successful results will demonstrate that: (1) the Derby Dolls consistently grow new membership at a greater rate than attrition, (2) members continue to benefit socially and emotionally from participation, (3) departing members are not leaving without having gained the benefit of social and emotional support, and (4) established support networks tend to persist following participation.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles etc.)
  • Technical infrastructure (computers etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support
  • Quality improvement research