Washington, DC - (NAPSI) - Every year since 1973, thousands of girls and young women from elementary school through college and beyond participate in the Colgate Women’s Games. Now in its 40th season, the series has helped countless students succeed academically, by providing a safe and healthy athletic program that motivates them to make the right personal lifestyle choices.

Each year, more than 11,000 female athletes compete within their own age/grade divisions in a series of preliminary meets where ribbons and medals are awarded weekly, and finalists compete at a world-class sports arena for trophies and educational grants-in-aid from Colgate-Palmolive Company.

The Colgate Women’s Games offers girls of all ages the opportunity to challenge themselves in an atmosphere of friendly competition. The program also promotes the importance of health, self-esteem and continuing education. All school-age girls must present their attendance records and submit a topical essay to compete in the finals.

Fred Thompson, the meet director and program’s founder, says, “Track and field builds self-esteem by providing girls a means to measure their own abilities and see how mental focus and physical practice improve results. This affirms their capacity to affect their own futures, a lesson that lasts a lifetime.”

The Colgate Women’s Games boasts 20 former Olympians and hundreds of age/grade national champions, and high school participants are consistently among the most heavily recruited female athletes in the nation. However, it can be a life-changing experience for many who compete, even if they don’t make the finals.

Thompson says, “We’ve always attracted top talent, but we’ve been very careful to stay just as welcoming to those who may have never competed in an organized event before. Countless former participants return as accomplished adults and say the Colgate Women’s Games instilled a sense of empowerment that contributed in large part to their success.

“Competitive athletics remain one of the healthiest ways to build self-esteem and encourage continuing education, and we’ve been able to provide a successful model for positively affecting young lives for four decades because Colgate-Palmolive Company shares these core values,” Thompson adds.

Participation in the Colgate Women’s Games is completely free. Girls and young women compete within their own age/grade divisions for ribbons, medals and points. Events include 55 meters, 55-meter hurdles, 200 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters, 1,500 meters, high jump and shot put. Top point scorers advance to the Finals, where they compete for trophies and educational grants-in-aid from Colgate-Palmolive Company.

To date, more than $2 million has been awarded in the form of educational grants-in-aid to nearly 4,000 top winners.

The 40th annual Colgate Women’s Games are the largest amateur track-and-field series for women. Coaches, recruiters, athletes, fans and press can follow scores by division and hopeful young track stars can also find information about the program at www.colgategames.com.