I’ll be honest- In my life thus far, I haven’t exactly been BFFs with being active.
In fact, in high school (and beyond), I was the poster child for the 28-minute mile. Thankfully, with time and the right support, I’ve come to appreciate the personal growth that can be achieved through physical activity.
This week, I got the chance to talk to Katie Bailey, Midwest Regional Coordinator of the nonprofit organization SheJumps- a new-to-Michigan group which sets out to empower women to get involved in new sports and activities ranging from skiing to learning the mechanics of a bicycle.
Allison: Let’s start off with a description of what your organization is all about. I did a little research before we talked, and the group sounds AWESOME!
Katie: Shejumps is a non-profit group which sets out to increase female participation in outdoor activities. We work with all women- from those who have never even THOUGHT about participating in outdoor sports, all the way to professional athletes. Our goal is to provide women with opportunities and knowledge through events, classes, and a supportive community. Those who are already active can use our website to connect them to others and branch out into new sports they have never tried.
A: Who started SheJumps, and why?
K: Shejumps was started by skiiers Lynsey Dyer, Vanessa Pierce, and Claire Smallwood. Claire (who remains the executive director of the program) says they started the group “to plant the idea that it is possible to live an adventurous and inspiring lifestyle, no matter who you are or where you come from.”
Tell me more about these workshops. You mentioned knot tieing and bike tuning… I know that as a less-than-handy girl, I for one could certainly use more knowledge!
Our most known event is called “Get the Girls Out,” a downhill skiing event meant to get girls out on the hill who have never been skiing before. We partner with sponsors so those women who wouldn’t ordinarily have access are able to participate as well. This year, we are also working to expand the programs we offer to include more educational events and social gatherings.
So, SheJumps is new to Michigan, right?
Yes. Which is cool, because women here have an awesome opportunity to contribute to the direction of the program. We are working to bring each member exactly what she is looking for, whether that be support, education, or activities. Our events so far have been meet and greet type gatherings, but we won’t stop there. The first meet and greet partnered with Msnow (http://www.m-snow.com/) to set up ski and snowboard ramps for the girls to play on during a bonfire. We’ve also been working on some exciting new things with Don Thomas Sports Haus in Birmingham.
I would imagine that events like this can be really empowering, even beyond physical fitness. What are your thoughts on the effect events like these have on women?
Physical fitness is a big part of Shejumps, but even more important is the community we develop. Getting on a mountain bike or strapping on skis and starting down that first big hill can be so intimidating… Having a great group of girlfriends cheering you on can help you push your limits, and you will improve more than you could on your own. Encouraging each other is the biggest part of why we’re here!
Ready to get active? If you want a supportive place to learn more about new athletic challenges, visit the online community at shejumps.ning.com to connect with ladies in your region (or around the country!), and stay up to date with events coming to your city.