At this year's Canadian University and College Ringette Association's (CUCRA) University Challenge Cup held in Elmira, Ontario, event hosts from Wilfrid Laurier University Ringette decided that their UCC event wasn't just going to be about playing ringette. They also wanted to make sure their tournament efforts involved giving back to the local community and the communities surrounding Elmira.
It was decided their community outreach would come in the form of empowering local young girls through the power of sport. To this end, they enlisted the experts from the not-for-profit Fast & Female organization who, along with their amazing community of elite female athlete ambassadors, provide a wide variety of excellent female empowerment programs of varying lengths and topics.
Head to Fast and Female Champ Chat, Orillia, ON - Inspiring a passion for a lifetime of sport - to learn more about Fast & Female and their Champ Chat Program.
Working with Fast & Female Event Coordinator and Ambassador Jessica Kuepfer, it was decided that a two-hour Power Hour would be planned for the fourth day of the UCC tournament where young girls aged 12 - 16 years would be invited from a number of community sport groups serving the surrounding communities of Elmira. On the day of the event, more than 30 young girls and 9 Fast & Female Ambassadors showed up ready to go. For this particular two-hour long Power Hour program, the purpose was to come together and work through what it means to be a leader and the ways in which someone could be considered a leader.
After taking a little time for introductions and outlining the event's primary activity, Jessica began the activity by asking all the young girls in the room whether or not they thought of themselves as leaders. Very few hands were raised in response to Jessica's question and it seemed that very few of the girls thought of themselves as leaders. When asked to identify character traits that would make someone a leader, many talked about the ability to help others, encouraging or motivating others and having a good attitude. When asked to identify those people in their lives who they see as leaders, many mentioned mothers, fathers, older siblings, coaches and teachers.
It was here that Jessica introduced the idea that every young girl in the room can be a leader and that often someone's unique leadership style is based on the special gifts and strengths that each young girl has. To help the girls learn what their strengths and gifts were, 10 statements were read out loud and with each statement, each girl indicated on a scale of 1 to 10 - where 1 is Untrue and 10 is completely True - which statements best or lease reflected how they thought of themselves when they were at school or with friends. (Every Ambassador had completed the same survey prior to the girls arriving). Scores were then tallied to determine which one of four possible leader groups - as represented by four colours - dominated within each girl. The girls were then put into smaller groups based on the leadership colour group.
The four types of leaders found within a group:
Green Leaders - "The Glue of the Group" - they work hard to bring everyone together when in a group.
Red Leaders - "The Researcher" - they use their logic-based skills to be realistic in their expectations and do what is needed to complete a task.
Yellow Leaders - "The Person of Action" - They lead by example and will motivate a group to stay focused. They are often seen as reliable.
Blue Leaders - "Big Ideas Person" - They dream and inspire. They are the idea-makers and approach problems in new ways.
Once in their respective leadership colour group, the ambassadors facilitated the girls to answer questions that asked them to identify their particular leadership group's strengths, weaknesses, best positions to hold in a group, the kinds of leaders they would best work with and for each girl to give an example of a time when they were a leader. Answers from each girl in the group were recorded on poster board to be presented to the whole group.
In the final ten minutes of the group exercise, one or two people from each leadership colour group shared their collective findings they had recorded on their posters. With each group's presentation, it was clear the lights of leadership were beginning to shine in the minds of many of the young girls and they were beginning to understand what was meant by Jessica's original statement that everyone has the potential to be a leader. An important Ah-Ha moment for every girl in the room to have as they begin to build the belief system they will take into real world situations.
In the final 30 minutes of the program, the girls were given the chance to ask all the Ambassadors about their experiences as elite athletes. In response to their questions, the ambassadors were generous, honest and open with their stories, experiences and advice for the girls. An amazing chance to help the young girls participating to see their potential future selves reflected back at them.
As the girls gathered their belongings to head home, they received a special Lululemon participant gift and an 8X10 Fast & Female poster that enabled each girl to collect autographs from each of the participating elite athlete ambassadors. A great way to end a very powerful Power Hour.
Sarah Pavan - Olympic Volleyball Player
Caitlin Genovy - Pro Volleyball Player
Rachel Hannah - Pro Runner and New Balance athlete
Erin McClure - Elite Runner
Siobhan Kelly - World Champion Level Cyclist
Melanie Boultbee - Ultrarunner
Natalie Hamel - World Champion Level Cyclist
Michaela Mcclure - World Champion Level Runner
Heather Zunic - Elite cyclist
Lindsey Henderson - Triathlete
Ella Strathdee - College team runner
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