Being active has always been a passion of mine. I remember playing outside all day as a kid, riding my bike, climbing trees, and creating obstacle courses around our yard. We were lucky enough to have an awesome swing set in our backyard that I used countless hours. When middle school approached, the sports offered to me were volleyball and basketball. Since I loved being active, I signed up for both. Although I enjoyed playing sports, I discovered quickly I was HORRIBLE at both of the sports offered. I stuck with it, even though I was always on the ‘B’ team. At least I was doing something, even if that ‘something’ was sitting on the bench at games. I thought about trying softball or other sports, but after my failed attempts at volleyball and basketball, I figured ‘ball’ sports may not be for me.
My freshman year in high school, my cousin convinced me to join the track team. After some resentment, I gave track a whirl. Low and behold, I LOVED it! As uncoordinated as I was at ‘team’ sports, I wasn’t too bad on the track. I spent my high school career running track (the mile and two mile), as well as cross country. I discovered that running was a sport that I could do as an individual, as well as with a team.
In college, I majored in Community Health because I wanted to share my love of physical education and healthy living with others. When I joined the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois, I was eager to share my love for recreational activities with other Girl Scouts. I wanted to encourage girls to try something new and different, and maybe spark their interest in a sport or activity. Girls who are active in sports and recreational activities have greater self-confidence and self-esteem, so it seemed like a natural fit with the Girl Scouts.
Sadly, by middle school, many girls (and boys) drop out of sports such as basketball, softball, or soccer because their skill level is not up to par with other players. Helping them find a physical activity that they enjoy will provide health and wellness benefits throughout their life – which is why Girl Scout programs like Real Girls Tri are so important! The best part about a triathlon is that, no matter what skill level you are at, you can still challenge yourself. Many girls do not get the chance to compete in Junior Triathlons; this experience is something unique that GSSI has been able to offer. It is such a confidence builder for girls to say “I ran in a triathlon. I finished the race and did the best that I could. I am a winner.” It doesn’t matter if the girls came in first or fiftieth, what matters is that they finished. I am so proud of ALL of our girls who competed in the triathlon this year. I want to congratulate them again for all of their hard work!
Teaching girls about healthy living is one of the key priorities of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. GSSI offers many programs about fitness, nutrition, positive communication and other necessities of physical and emotional wellbeing. Do you have a skill or passion that could help promote healthy living to girls in southern Illinois? Contact Micah Bolandis, Director of Volunteer Management at 800.345.6858 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.