What Makes Sole Girls Special by Coach Annika
September 5, 2017
Sole Girls is my life. If you see me getting active in my community chances are I am wearing a Sole Girls shirt. If you see me driving down the street my car is decked out in Sole Girls stickers. If you look at my Instagram most of my photos have something to do with Sole Girls. You might think I’m a bit obsessed, and you would be completely right! Sole Girls is my life because it changed my life. While it’s difficult to explain the true magic of Sole Girls, here are some of the things that make it special and an absolute game changer for girls and young women just like me.
1. A Safe Space for Sharing
At our weekly sessions, we get the opportunity to build a safe space for girls to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences. When girls come to Sole Girls they know that they won’t be judged. Their thoughts, feelings and what’s going on in their lives is truly important to us. By creating a welcoming space full of acceptance, girls get to see that we all have similar experiences and that she is never alone. At Sole Girls, we want girls to know that a supportive, open-minded and loving community is possible and that she is a part of one.
2. Connection with Mentors
“For girls, having a positive mentor in their lives, who offers non-judgemental support and helps them identify their unique strengths, is key to building their confidence as they grow up.” – Beth Malcolm, Director Girls’ Fund at the Canadian Women’s Foundation.
Our mentors are the true magic of Sole Girls. We have been through all the girl stuff – the friend drama, the negative self talk, the body image, everything. We’re kind of like the ‘cool older sisters’. We share our own experiences going through the same things girls go through now and are able to be that person who just listens fully or offers empathetic advice when a girl shares her stories. It is truly special when someone (who isn’t your parents) deeply cares about you, listens to you and supports you – girls learn that they are worthy and important.
“Some teachers just talk to us like we’re kids, but you talk to us like we’re your friends” – Sophia, Sole Girl
As coaches and mentors, we also get to be role models by sharing our own goals and dreams with girls. From physical activity goals, to careers and beyond we share all of the unique ways we strive to be the best versions of ourselves. When girls see other women doing cool things and making goals, it can be very inspiring and show them that they can do it too.
3. Sparking Conversation and Connection at Home
Every week we have a new topic – from values to body image we talk about all things in the ‘Girl World’. The discussions and activities we do in our sessions help girls talk about topics that are sometimes hard to bring up at home. The beautiful thing is that these discussions don’t end at Sole Girls and often continue with family. By talking about these things with mentors and other girls first, it gives girls a chance to talk with someone other than their parents. This can help open up conversations and help families build more understanding and connection.
“What I, personally, thought was useful about the camp is that it opened the door for us as a family to have an open conversation about some of the things she discussed with the mentors and the other girls at camp such as bullying, self-image, empowerment etc. Having someone to talk to other than your parents about things that happen and how to handle difficult situations is quite often easier and as such extremely valuable.” – Amy, Sole Parent
4. Fun Physical Activity
“9% of 5- to 17-year-olds in Canada meet the daily recommendation of at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity” – Statistics Canada
Believe it or not girls aren’t moving as much as they used to. Many sports get very competitive at a very young age and can discourage children from participating in sports altogether. At Sole Girls, there is no competition. It doesn’t matter how fast or far you run, the only thing that matters is that what you’re doing feels good for your body. Whether you’re a runner, swimmer, dancer or gymnast we work to have find our happy pace, have fun and feel good being active!
5. The Joy of Reaching a Goal
At the end of our 9-week sessions all girls have the opportunity to participate in a 5km fun run! We train every week to reach that goal and it is a journey. There is something so special about completing something you didn’t think you could surrounded by the people who supported you along the way. When girls cross that finish line and realize what they have just accomplished, their confidence and belief in themselves changes. When girls accomplish something that they thought was impossible, suddenly all the things they didn’t think they were capable of become possible. They start to see their potential to do anything they’ve dreamed of, but understand that it may take some time and goal-setting to get there.
6. Building Confidence
“I used to think I was a total freak, now I know that I’m beautiful just the way I am” – Anni, Sole Girl
Through safe spaces, mentorship, conversation, physical activity and goals, girls are building their confidence without even knowing it! Building confidence is something that takes time and it happens over our 9 weeks together. It happens when a girl is cheered on by her group during an obstacle course. It happens when a mentor asks how that dance recital went last week. It happens when a girl gets an award from her new friend for being kind. It happens when a girl keeps running even when she didn’t believe she could go that far. These things may seem small but they are the moments when things shift. If you’ve ever seen the look in a child’s eyes when they are full of pride then you know what we’re talking about. We see that look all the time at different moments and for different reasons. It is in those moments with us at Sole Girls that we know girls are becoming more confident and more empowered, and that is a very special thing!
Annika has been with Sole Girls for 4 years. She recently completed her first full year of coaching with Sole Girls and completed her first triathlon this year.