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Success Story: Turning a Challenge into Gold

Jul 13, 2012

Taylor A. loves sports. She spent most of her spare time on the soccer field until back-to-back knee injuries abruptly forced her off the field. “I couldn’t do sports and I had all of this free time,” she recalls. “I wanted to help other people, but I wasn’t sure how.”

So the high school senior in Colorado Springs, Colorado, found a way to turn her own medical challenges into a plan for her Gold Award. Through research and working with her orthopedic surgeon, she learned that certain stretches and exercises reduce the likelihood of tearing the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, as she had. Taylor put together a workshop and booklet targeted to young female athletes.

“After my second ACL surgery, I knew I was finished playing soccer,” Taylor says. “I broke down a few times working on the project because I knew my injuries could have been prevented—or the likelihood of them could have been reduced.”

Once the workshops started, Taylor started to see her hard work pay off. The older girls understood some of the risks already, and appreciated the information she provided. But it was the younger girls who were most captivated by Taylor’s personal story.

“The younger girls could see my scars and my braces and knew that they didn’t want that for themselves, so they took it more seriously,” she says.

Taylor also tells girls about another lesson she learned along her journey. “There are other things besides sports,” says Taylor, who is now in college. “If you build your life on one aspect, you can lose it. You have to be well rounded, and I think my experience showed them that it is important.”

See Taylor’s story, and others like it, on Map It!, our interactive map that shows how girls are changing the world through their Take Action, Forever Green, and Awards projects.