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Virtue shares vulnerability at GROWgirls event in Woodstock
WOODSTOCK, ONT. -- It was a lesson in building alliances through physical activity.
The second GROWgirls event was held in Woodstock on Thursday and the initiative has a new ally, with London native and Canadian Olympian Tessa Virtue speaking to open the event.
Part of Virtue's message was that everyone will have times when they feel unsure and a little vulnerable; even if you’re a celebrated ice dancer and Olympic gold medal winner.
"Sometimes, as a female, it's not easy. It's not easy what we demand of our bodies, it's not easy to put ourselves out there. Is it?"
Virtue was addressing the approximately 700 female-identified Grade Nine students at the GROWgirls Woodstock event.
Virtue is working with Fitspirit, an organization which partners with schools to promote physical activity for young women.
"Nine out of 10 females, as they graduate high school, don't meet the minimum requirement for physical activity. And that just boggles my mind."
The first GROWgirls Woodstock event was initiated by Makenna Hall last year.
Hall faced depression after the unexpected death of a friend by suicide. She then turned those emotions into a movement to help others.
"I did a lot of growing and I wanted to empower these young girls to understand that they have a voice that's powerful enough to create change. And that's how GROWgirls came about."
The latest event was filled with physical activities and bonding opportunities.
It was organized by Haley Cocker and Emma Jull. Jull says the day also helps the students find a support network.
"I think it's just so important for them to be able to build that support network that a lot of us are still working on. And the earlier they can build it, the better for them."
Cocker says building resilience in the face of adversity is vital, "They can achieve as much as they choose and it's really within themselves to power through that."
Virtue says those are the lessons she learned through her fitness regimen and through competition.
She says it's not about conforming to ideals about body image, but acquiring the tools for personal growth.
"Goal setting, perseverance, determination; all of that comes with being physically active and just getting a sense of yourself in space. Girls need to learn to take up space. They need to learn that that's okay and that they can be seen and heard."