You don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy being active.
That was the message served up to teens at this year’s inaugural Girl’s Only Health and Wellness Conference, where more than 50 girls learned about healthy living and ways to stay active.
The full-day event, held at Beban Park last week, was organized and led by senior students from Wellington High School, who wanted to introduce Grade 9 students to lifestyle choices and activities beyond the traditional teachings of physical education classes. Students could experiment with fitness routines like yoga and boxercise, and learn about confidence, stress management and an aboriginal medicine wheel.
According to organizers, Grade 9 is a year of transition where young people begin to build lifetime habits. They are also 12 months away from deciding if they want to continue to enroll in gym class and the sport-based model isn’t for everyone, especially non-athletes, they said, adding the conference is an introduction to other activities teens can take up.
Gina Goertzen, who teaches an alternative physical fitness class at Wellington and helped coordinate the event, said the purpose is not only to encourage a look at lifestyle but a shift in the way physical education is taught to young girls.
“We want to make it less sport model delivery,” she said. “I mean we do have a lot of athletes and we want to respect that … but we have a lot of girls who not connected to that and we really want to introduce them to lifestyle activities. If they disconnect in Grade 9 and 10 it’s really hard to get them reconnected until later in life and we don’t want to lose that window.”
Grade 9 students Gabby Soja, London Taylor and Reeba Evans were all smiles as they took a lunch break during event on May 1. The conference has been a great way to bond with other girls and test out activities they hadn’t done before without judgement, they said, adding they’d like to see the event happen again.
The pilot program has the potential to be hosted for other secondary schools in the future.