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Zoe is an energetic 9-year-old, who loves to burn off energy by staying active. “I did a few sports. I did speed skating, gymnastics, swimming, and soccer,” Zoe explains. Living in Manitoba, Zoe and her little sister have built a tight community of friends and coaches through sports and recreational activities.
Unfortunately, when the pandemic hit, Zoe, like many girls, lost access to her sports community and even her school friends. “We’ve been in code red since the middle of November. So that’s meant the cancellation of all of the kids’ recreational activities,” explains her mother, Jen. “They’re still able to go to school, but the classrooms have all been split up. So they have fewer kids in the class”.
Jen is a physiotherapist and her husband, a Physical Education professor. Keeping their daughters healthy and active through movement continues to be a priority. Using the virtual space has provided some sense of normalcy and connection with their network. “My parents don’t live in Manitoba. So often the girls will go on FaceTime and they’ll do workouts online with my parents,” says Jen. “Sometimes they even go live on Facebook and they’ll stream some workouts. Zoe makes up all of the workouts, to help some of her friends. Even my colleagues from work have done some of the workouts and their kids have done them too.”
In addition to sparking her innovative spirit to lead online workouts, connecting virtually has emboldened Zoe, who is usually the shy type, to step outside of her comfort zone.
“We’ve really learned that so many things can be done virtually, [more] than I think we ever thought was possible. Even though it isn’t the same as it would be in person, there’s still so much benefit.” Jen registered Zoe for Fast and Female’s 1st Virtual Summit back in December. “It’s given her something to really look forward to. She would come home, and she’d be excited about [attending Summit] because everything had been canceled. You just kind of get into this rut. You can’t have friends over. You can’t do this, you can’t do that. But, we can still meet as a group all across Canada.”
Surprisingly, attending the Summit virtually, rather than in-person presented an unexpected benefit – “she was able to try new things,” Jen recounts.
“She’s a pretty quiet kiddo. She would never, I can’t even imagine a million years [try the activities offered at Summit]”.
When presented with the opportunity to pivot our local events into the virtual space, our initial reaction was uneasiness around how to create an authentic connection between the girls and our role models without being in the same room. We’ve received incredible feedback from girls who have made new friends across the nation. We’re also ecstatic to learn that hosting virtual events also encourages introverted girls like Zoe, to try new activities without the social pressures that in-person events may present.
“It’s given her some confidence to just try new things that she would not have thought of doing before. I honestly don’t think that if it would have been in person, and I said, ‘Hey, so we’re gonna go to a boxing class’ – I don’t think that she would have tried it. [With virtual events] she’s in her own room. It’s a safe place when she’s doing all these things, and she’s really had a great time.”
Based on stories like Zoe’s, and other key learning from having to pivot to virtual events, in 2021, we are –
- Creating new programs
- Performing rigorous evaluations
- Ensuring easier accessibility for equity-deserving groups.
This will require $500,000 in fundraising and donation dollars. Learn how you can support Fast and Female in our mission to keep self-identified girls healthy and active in sports, here.