–By Ottawa Sportspage, For Louis-Riel Rebelles
With classes getting back in session, female Louis-Riel students are clambering to sign up for the hot club at their high school that will keep them active throughout the school year.
Called Fillactive à Louis, the program provides a welcoming girls-only atmosphere for teenagers to explore physical activity and healthy living. Set to begin its third year, the number of participants tripled in its second year, and is now poised to grow further, particularly with sponsorship and apparel from the school’s new Nike Team program partnership.
“It’s surpassed our expectations,” signals Louis-Riel sports-études director Ken Levesque. “We’re really, really excited about it.”
Running all the way through Grade 7 to 12, Fillactive participants get together weekly and try all kinds of sports, from running to hiphop, while covering topics such as fitness and nutrition. There are also special activities throughout the year, such as the 5 km/10 km run Louis-Riel hosted this past spring for over 700 girls from Ottawa/Outaouais.
A concept developed from the national Fillactive/FitClub organization, Louis-Riel initially viewed it as an opportunity to engage girls from multicultural backgrounds in particular.
“We’re a very multicultural school, so we have girls from many ethnicities who aren’t pushed, or as prone, to be involved in sports and fitness,” explains Levesque. “But it became so popular that practically every girl wanted to become involved.”
That snowball effect fuelled an atmosphere where those who hadn’t had as much experience in physical activities drew added confidence from training alongside the more seasoned athletes.
“One girl may say, ‘Ah, I’m not good enough to go tryout for the soccer team,’ but the soccer girls are there, and they encourage them,” Levesque highlights. “It opens the door to other things like that. If they have healthy living habits, it’ll encourage them to tryout for sports teams or our sports program.”
Though its renowned sports-études program is a major part of the culture at Louis-Riel, not all students are a part of it, though an active mentality permeates throughout the entire student population. Engaging all students is key, says Levesque, noting they’ve made a conscious effort to offer sports that tend to be more popular with female students, such as their new dance program, partnerships with gymnastics clubs, and hopefully cheer in the near future.
“It’s important for girls to feel they have the same opportunity as boys do in sport, education and fitness,” underlines Levesque, highlighting the strong spirit and community the Fillactive initiative has helped build amongst female Louis-Riel students.
“It’s really nice to see them work together and train together,” he adds. “It really brings the girls together.”