If you came out to and/or supported the (F)Empower Fight Night Festival back in March, you know it was for amazing cause, a charity that integrates two facets of my life that are very close to my heart: Female empowerment through sport, and of course, my alma mater, Queen's University at Kingston! I might be a little bit biased, but having spent 4 amazing years on a beautiful campus, making true friends, learning as much as I could possibly absorb, and taking my first few steps down the road that lead me to where I am today, I like to think of Queen's as the Disney Land of Universities :). I was so unbelievably excited when I discovered that Queen's had its own chapter of Play Like a Girl, and was beyond impressed to discover it is in fact that only chapter in Canada! Today I share how Raquel, its founder, got the club up and running!
Throughout my time at Queen's, I found that the girls that lived an active lifestyle were often motivated by body image more than health. Overall, girls were less likely to join intramural teams or play recreational sports purely for the fun of it. This was discouraging to me because I believe that sports have taught me so much and played such a major role in my life. Beyond that, sports inspire a healthy form of socialization that gives us a break from the 'typical university student life' - sitting at the library, partying with our friends, and laying on the couch watching Netflix.
I was inspired to start a club at Queen's that would empower girls to become involved in sports and motivating young women to continue living a healthy, active lifestyle. In the summer of 2015, I went online and found an organization called Play Like a Girl that began in the southern United States. It was initially named "Sisterbration" and began as a non-profit charity that aimed to support middle-aged women in reaching their health and fitness goals. In 2011, the organization moved to Texas and was rebranded as "Play Like a Girl". The new mission focused on improving the health of elementary school girls throughout the southern United States.
I reached out to the Founder of the organization, Dr. Kimberly Clay, and told her about my interest in starting my own Chapter of Play Like a Girl at Queen's U. This was great timing as it was the first year that Play Like a Girl began opening its Collegiate Chapters. Dr. Kim, along with all of the other future Chapter presidents, were excited to make Play Like a Girl an international organization. All of us met over Skype several times throughout the summer and I began advertising on Facebook for Ambassadors & Members to join the movement. I received an overwhelming amount of applications and interest by August and got together a really wonderful, passionate Executive Committee. We ran some events on campus and at elementary schools around the Kingston area which were a great success. We now have around 300 likes on Facebook and have a much more directed approach planned for next year, which I think will be really successful. I have now handed off the group to Nicole Holmes, who will be President of our Chapter next year. We are so excited for next year and I can't wait to see how much this group grows thanks to all the Queen's students that have joined and to generous groups like yours!