École secondaire publique Louis-Riel in Ottawa has been on board with the FitSpirit approach for five years, led by teacher Katrina Potvin.
Louis-Riel offers its multicultural student body a sport-study program but Karina was concerned about the girls who weren’t in the program and didn’t seem to enjoy sports. This was before she discovered FitSpirit, which perfectly matches her vision and the school administration’s approach to getting girls involved in regular physical activity.
Karina isn’t flying solo on this project. From the outset, three other teachers have been working with her to organize activities and implement the FitSpirit approach at the school.
Perseverance and real engagement from the administration
In the first year, there were 15 girls in the FitSpirit group and only 6 of them went to the FitSpirit Celebration in the spring, Karina told us. The teachers and the administration didn’t lose heart. They worked together to attract more girls to the FitSpirit group and even decided to give it full-fledged sports team status.
Little by little, FitSpirit activities and workouts came to occupy as much space on the calendar as those of the other teams. Since then, the FitSpirit group’s special status has allowed it to enjoy the same privileges as the other teams in the school’s sports-study program, without the competition! “We use all the tools FitSpirit provides to help us,” Karina says. “The motivational talks, the activities led by ambassadors, the running videos – they’ve all have been very useful to us.”
Karina has watched the number of participants grow year after year. Last May, no fewer than 99 girls from Louis-Riel took part in the Celebration in the Gatineau-Ottawa region.
It’s been the same story at Louis-Riel as elsewhere. Teenage girls who had balked at physical activity because they were shy or scared of being laughed at developed a passion for it. One FitSpirit participant stole the spotlight at the school’s year-end show and is now studying dance after discovering hip-hop; another competed in the Francophone Games in track! FitSpirit activities helped them discover new sides to their personalities and unsuspected talents in other fields that have opened up new and exciting vistas for them.
“It’s important for us that our students are physically active and participate regardless of their physical condition or their skills,” Karina says. “Also, the FitSpirit group’s philosophy facilitates participation and inclusion for girls from different cultures, which makes us very happy.”
Some former students have applied to become FitSpirit ambassadors so they can pass on their new passion for sports and physical activity to others. “Some of them couldn’t even do one lap on the track at first!” Karina recalls.
Watch Karina video here.