CALGARY – A Canadian organization says girls are dropping out of sports at an alarming rate when they hit their teens and local Olympian Kaillie Humphries wants to change that.
Humphries shared her story about being bullied in her teen years and how it affected her life at ‘Fast and Female,’ an annual event at Winsport that promotes sports for girls ages eight to 18.
The reigning bobsleigh Olympic champ inspired the crowd with how sports helped her get through her difficult teens.
“I was not the popular kid. I was not the kid that everyone wanted to chat to. I always got picked last, even to go in the ski vans. Riding the chairlift by yourself,” said Humphries.
Her message to young girls is that sports provides challenges you learn to push through.
“To be entirely honest, before I discovered my sport I really didn’t like sports because I was always chosen last for everything but once I discovered my sport, luge, I fell in love with the sport. It’s just so much fun,” said Megan Conway, a participant in the event.
The program was started by Canmore Olympic gold medalist Chandra Crawford, who was troubled by stats that showed girls are quitting sports at six times the rate of boys, before they reach 14.
“And reason number one, social belonging. If they are not feeling welcome or part of the team and they’re not having fun it doesn’t matter how good they are they are going to quit,” said Crawford.
“You know we all have obstacles, we all have challenges – mine was growing up as a kid who was bullied. A lot of it definitely made me who I am, but something that this world definitely needs less of,” said Humphries.
Organizers say, while girls are great overall at academics today, it’s the discipline and life lessons that sport offers that will give them the edge as women.
“We feel really strongly at Fast and Female that we are training the future leaders. The impact of keeping a girl active in sports is far beyond physical benefits, it’s actually tomorrow’s leaders,” said Crawford.
The goal of ‘Fast and Female’ is to get as many girls as possible hooked on healthy and athletic lifestyles.