FitSpirit and Scotiabank empower Canadian girls to stick with sports

Photo credit:  Fusion Fotography

Self esteem, supporting one another, surpassing one’s limits and having fun – these are the four pillars of FitSpirit. For more than ten years, Canadian not-for-profit FitSpirit has inspired teenage girls across Canada to discover the benefits and fun of being physically active. Founded in 2007 by Claudine Labelle, FitSpirit partners with schools and community organizations to provide a variety of activities to girls aged 12 to 17 that get them moving and keep them physically active over the long term.

"We understand that staying active is an integral part of young women's physical, mental and emotional health," says Claudine Labelle, Founder and President of FitSpirit. "If girls commit to an active lifestyle in their teenage years, they are more likely to continue to be active in adulthood. The best way to encourage them is to provide a safe and supportive space to pursue the fun of physical activity."

Research shows that half of Canadian girls feel pressure to please others and appear "perfect" when they hit puberty. This often results in them taking on less challenges and avoiding new things. This coincides with many young women abandoning athletics and other physical activities in high school. By the time they graduate, nine out of 10 girls fail to meet Canadian exercise standards. FitSpirit knows this trend can be reversed by encouraging young women to build their self-esteem and confidence.

FitSpirit offers tools and services within a holistic approach based on flexible, individualized support to guide school representatives and FitSpirit ambassadors in motivating the girls. Over the last year alone, FitSpirit has gained 250 new partner schools and has 400 active volunteers and partners. Past programs have included school-based running programs, motivational speaker events and student-run charitable fundraisers.

"FitSpirit's work is incredibly important for the future of Canadian girls' physical and mental health," says Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, official spokesperson for FitSpirit. "By encouraging participants to stay active and have fun at a young age, we are empowering them to put their health and wellness first as they mature into adults."

Today, the not-for-profit announced the Scotiabank FitSpirit Celebration in Montreal. The Celebration is the culmination of FitSpirit's 10-week program where participating young women run a five or 10 kilometre race, encouraging them to push their limits while having fun being active. To help support the important work of FitSpirit, Scotiabank is donating $1 million, becoming the title sponsor of the FitSpirit Celebrations.

"At Scotiabank we are passionate about helping young people reach their infinite potential," says Gillian Riley, Executive Vice-President, Canadian Commercial Banking, Scotiabank. "We believe our donation to FitSpirit is an investment in the long-term security, stability and growth of our communities. We hope our support will help inspire girls to stay involved with sport, gaining further confidence, skills and resources to support their success."

Scotiabank's support will result in an increased number and size of Celebration events in Canada, enabling even more young women to celebrate their accomplishments through sport. The Scotiabank FitSpirit 2018 Celebrations are set to take place at the following locations: Toronto (May 8), Gatineau (May 10), Montreal (May 15), Quebec (May 17), Rimouski (May 29), Sudbury (June 3), Rouyn – Noranda (June 3).

No competition, no concern for performance: the only goal is to have fun trying new physical activities.