“The mandate, today, there is only one and that is to have fun! “, Launches a facilitator of the FitSpirit program at the microphone, while the teenage girls begin to arrive by the hundreds at Maisonneuve Park, in Montreal.

It’s a FitSpirit day of celebrations on Tuesday morning. More than 2,000 teenage girls aged 12 to 17, from dozens of different schools, are expected for this event, which crowns the year of the organization. A first in three years — thank you, pandemic.

The objective of this gathering, in continuity with the mission of the program, is to offer teenage girls an opportunity to play sports with friends in a festive atmosphere, without pressure, without judgment and without competition.

“Our message is that we each have a sport that sticks to our skin, explains to La Presse the founder of FitSpirit, Claudine Labelle. You just have to find it! This is our mandate. It’s to say, “You’re going to have a blast. If there are barriers that prevent you from doing it, we will eliminate them”. »

All over the park, representatives of different sports federations or organizations welcome young women to make them try a sport: ultimate frisbee, soccer, ringette, rugby, judo, handball, boxing, volleyball, parasports… There are everything, for all tastes.

At the end of the field, five girls experiment with yoga and try – in vain – to balance on one leg. A little further on, four others are laughing heartily while trying out pétanque.

“I find it really fun that all the girls can come play sports together!” says Ariane, a 13-year-old triathlete and freestyle skier who took advantage of the day to try boxing. “Sport brings me happiness. When I’m stressed, what helps me is going to play sports. »

“According to statistics, there are 9 out of 10 girls who do not do any physical activity, recalls Alain Taillefer, president of the École de pétanque du Québec. If we can get them to have fun, even if it’s not a lot of physical effort, the fact remains that there are advantages [to petanque]. There is the motor, sensory, social and intellectual side. »

Around 10 a.m., everyone gathers in front of the large stage erected for the occasion, where a group warm-up is planned. The thousands of young women do not have to be prayed to take part.

At 10:50 a.m., the groups arrive in waves in front of an inflatable arch to start the 5 km. Two distinguished guests are present to encourage them: freestyle skier Justine Dufour-Lapointe and professional dancer Kim Gingras, both FitSpirit godmothers.

“The goal is to motivate each other among girls and to have fun, to do a sporting activity, to move outside. And that this activity is a beautiful memory and that the girls continue to keep these beautiful habits of life all their progress and all their lives, “says Dufour-Lapointe, who is in her third year as godmother of the program with her two sisters, Max and Chloe.

“That’s it, FitSpirit,” she continues. It’s simple as anything, but it takes events like this to offer young people experiences, to give them the opportunity to move in a beautiful context, where they are not judged and where there is no competition. […] They don’t need to be Olympic champions, they just need to have the taste. »

Kim Gingras, for her part, has been the organization’s sponsor for only a few months. The one who danced for big stars such as Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake offered, during the pandemic, virtual conferences with schools registered in the Fillactive program.

“I think you have to stay curious. This is what I invite young people to do. [When I was young] I did a bit of karate, badminton, running, gymnastics. It was when I came across dancing that I was like, ‘wow, that’s calling me. »

FitSpirit celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. The program has come a long way since it was founded by Claudine Labelle in 2007. No fewer than 230 schools and 6,250 teenage girls are now registered.

“I had envisioned something big for FitSpirit, but so big? So powerful? I do not believe. We often minimize the impact we can have in people’s lives. I have seen lives changed. Girls who grew up in FitSpirit, who come back to me and say: I’m lucky I met FitSpirit. Now I want to move and I do it with my gang. »

Her team made sure to be there for the young girls during the pandemic, including offering virtual workouts.

“There are young people who were sinking and it was important to hang them up,” she said. It was very difficult to find the magic recipe in such complex circumstances. But I think we succeeded, honestly. »

FitSpirit gatherings are also planned in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Rimouski, Sainte-Gertrude-Manneville and Port-Cartier over the next few days.



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