Human Interest

Paralympian praises child care fund for Olympian parents: It’s an ‘opportunity where you don’t have to choose’

Olympian, Paralympian, parents

While many people think of physical demands and mental focus as the traditional challenges that athletes face, Olympians and Paralympians who are parents have an additional hurdle to cross — figuring out how to care for their children while they are competing. The current Tokyo Olympics has been especially hard for parents, as COVID restrictions have meant that in many cases, their children must stay home. Luckily, more attention is being given — along with tangible help — so that these parents can follow their dreams while ensuring that their children are well-cared-for.

NPR Morning Edition recently interviewed Lora Webster, a Paralympian who competes in sitting volleyball. Pregnant with her fourth child, Webster spoke of the difficulties and logistics of finding child care while she travels to Tokyo. In addition to finding someone to watch her children, Webster and other Olympians have typically had to pay those expenses themselves, which can be a huge cost. NPR surmises that it’s because of lack of child care that “[m]any female athletes have to choose between parenting and competing.”

READ: Olympian medalist Allyson Felix creates child care fund for other Olympian moms

In an effort to ease some of this burden, Olympian Allyson Felix, in collaboration with Athleta and the Women’s Sports Foundation, has established a $200,000 fund for Olympic parents. Webster is one of nine athletes who received money from the fund in order to ensure that she could afford adequate childcare while she was competing on the other side of the globe. Webster said the money will help pay for travel expenses for her mother (who is caring for her children) and compensate her lost work income. “This money is going to help us just make sure that my parents are taken care of when my mom loses those 10 days of work,” she said.

The income and dedicated childcare is a relief for Webster, especially after she had experience with a number of unreliable babysitters for the last two Olympics.

“The peace of mind that this money is giving us by being able to have somebody dedicated to be here that they can’t call in sick. They can’t no show is going to be insanely relieving,” Webster told NPR. “The fact that Allyson took the hardships that she faced during the two years since she has become a mom and she realized that there was a need and she had the sponsorship and she had the voice. It’s powerful and I am so grateful.”

Webster further praised Felix and the childcare fund for making it easier for women to be both mothers and athletes. “Having a child and expanding your family should never be a burden like this, where you have to choose between one dream and the other,” she said. “And they’ve really created this opportunity where you don’t have to choose.”

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