FitSpirit works with Ontario and Quebec teenage girls through FitClub Program

Teens take up the challenge of FitClub with Support from Elite Female Athletes

MONTREAL, May 19 /CNW/ - What might seem even a bit boring at first - a 5-kilometre race - turned out to be the final part of a pioneering experiment in sports for a number of teenage girls from Adam Scott CVI in Peterborough, Ontario on May 11th. By running 5 km, the teenagers, along with 260 other girls in Ontario and Quebec, took up the challenge raised by FitSpirit and their teachers to get active by completing a 6-week "FitClub" running and training program.

The program was offered by FitSpirit in three schools in Quebec and 4 in Ontario, as well as at the Toronto YWCA. During the 6-week period, participants trained together under the supervision of their physical education teacher. By taking part in FitClub, they also received counselling and had the opportunity to meet with an elite athlete. A kinesiologist and a nutritionist were also on hand to advise them and answer their questions related to fitness and nutrition.

Elite athletes participating with the girls in Ontario were Molly Killingbeck, Buffy Williams, and Isabelle Turcotte-Baird. Andréanne Éthier-Chiasson worked with the girls in Quebec. Two nutritionists, Jennifer Sygo (Ontario) and Isabelle Dumont (Quebec) were also part of the team.

The FitClub project is an initiative of FitSpirit, a foundation that offers real, proven ways of motivating girls between 13 and 17 to adopt an active, healthy and well-balanced lifestyle, which also has the positive effect of giving them greater self-esteem.

"I liked the extra exercise, running with my friends, the nutritionist, running with Molly (Killingbeck) and being outdoors a lot," said Natasha Jiwa, a 13-year-old team captain. "This was an amazing experience! I will remember this always! I love FitSpirit!"

"I liked having a group out together two days a week," said Maggie Leestie, Natasha's phys-ed teacher of Richmond Rose Public School. "The teachers and students working together were great!"

Kim McBride of Adam Scott CVI said, "It's a great way to get young girls together and teach them that physical activity is important and fun!"

The foundation has been providing conferences and activities for girls in Ontario and Quebec since 2006. However, its president and founder, Claudine Labelle, herself a former elite athlete, wished to go further and play a larger part in helping the girls adopt healthy habits.

"It's said that it takes 20 days to adopt a new habit," said Labelle. "That's what we want to do with the FitClub - be involved as long as it takes for the girls to include sports as part of their lives."

"The benefits are numerous: better health, better living habits but also better self-esteem. That's important because studies show that girls - even today - have a tendency to think of themselves as less able than boys in sports, and there's no reason why they should," said Labelle.

The FitClub program was launched for the first time this spring as a pilot project. The schools and organizations involved were Polyvalente des Monts, Polyvalente St-Jérôme and École secondaire Augustin-Norbert Morin in Quebec, the Toronto YWCA and Adam Scott Collegiate Institute (Peterborough), Richmond Rose PS (Richmond Hill), École secondaire catholique Renaissance (Aurora) and Dr. G. J. MacGillivrary Public School (Courtice) in Ontario.

The FitSpirit program focuses on promoting health and physical activity among female teenagers between 13 and 17 years old. FitSpirit presents seminars at schools in Quebec and Ontario. Since 2007, FitSpirit has grown to have an audience of more than 35,000 female students in Quebec and Ontario. FitSpirit has received the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, The Jays Care Foundation, Hydro One, TELUS and Roxy. It also wishes to thank CNW Group. For more information please visit www.fitspirit.ca.

SOURCE FITSPIRIT

For further information: For further information: For Media Inquiries Please Contact: Sarah Thompson, sarah@coeurideas.com, (416) 457-4461; Claudine Labelle, President of FitSpirit/Présidente de FitSpirit, Québec: (514) 622-8051, Ontario: (416) 219-8051, www.claudinelabelle.com

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