Allyson Felix and sponsor launch program to offer child care at track and field championship
The Olympic athlete's initiative for the competition, now underway in Oregon, is in partnership with primary sponsor Athleta and the nonprofit organization &Mother.
Olympic medalist Allyson Felix is a staunch advocate for maternal health for Black women, and she’s working to ensure her fellow athletes have access to child care at track competitions.
Felix announced Tuesday that she is providing free child care for athletes, coaches and staff at the 2022 U.S. Track and Field Championships, which began Thursday and will run through Sunday, June 26, in Eugene, Oregon, NPR reports. The initiative is in partnership with Felix’s primary sponsor, Athleta, and the nonprofit organization &Mother.
Felix also supports women through her sneaker brand, Saysh. The company gives expecting mothers a free new pair of sneakers if they go up a shoe size during pregnancy.
“It’s just a way really to … say we can show up and support women, and they don’t have to choose between motherhood and anything else,” said Felix, who gave birth in 2018 to her daughter, Camryn.
Felix’s Team USA comrade Alysia Montaño, a two-time world champion, is a co-founder of &Mother.
Felix, who has 11 Olympic medals, is the most decorated U.S. track and field athlete in history. As reported previously by theGrio, Felix, Athleta and the Women’s Sports Foundation launched the Power of She Fund: Child Care Grants last year. The program committed $200,000 to child care costs for nine competing mom-athletes in the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo.
“As a mom and an athlete, I know first-hand the obstacles women face in sports,” Felix said at the time. “It was important to me and to Athleta that our partnership reflects that I am more than just an athlete. In fact, part of my contract includes provisions for my daughter, Camryn, to join me whenever I am competing.”
“But not everyone has access to this type of support from a partner or sponsor,” she added. “These grants are about showing the industry that all mom-athletes need this same comprehensive support to be able to participate in their athletic endeavors.”
Felix, Athleta’s Power of She Fund and the WSF have announced that their next round of child care grants — whose 2022 application closes on Tuesday, July 12, at 5 p.m. EST — will provide “female athletes $10,000 for child care expenses needed so they may train and compete.”
Back in 2019, when Nike was one of her sponsors, Felix spoke out against the sports apparel giant after the company refused to pay her while she was on maternity leave. This prompted Nike to announce a new maternity policy for all sponsored athletes.
“I just think how would that situation have been different if there were women at the table,” said Felix, who had to deal with a team of all-male Nike representatives at the time.
“I felt like I was being used in multiple marketing campaigns to tell women and girls that they could do anything when, internally, I was having such a hardship,” she explained to NPR.
“What I was asking for was when a woman has a baby to have time to recover to be able to get back to that top form,” Felix said, “and essentially, they told me that I could have time, but they weren’t ready to give all female athletes the time, and they weren’t willing to tie anything to pregnancy in the contract. And so, for me, that was a real issue and a sticking point.”
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