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Olympians empowers BIPOC girls to get involved in sport

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Young girls in the Windsor-Essex region had the opportunity of a lifetime Saturday, learning from world class athletes.

Female students from grade four to 10 who identify as black, indigenous or people of colour (BIPOC), were invited to a special event filled with fun and fitness in hopes of encouraging them to get active.

“I’m the upcoming next generation of athletes in my opinion,” said Ella Steel Douglas.

The 14-year-old has been in track and field since she was seven.

“I love long jump, jumping, sprinting. I hope to be a 200 metre runner and to be a long jump Olympian,” she said.

Steel Douglas is one of 60 girls participating in the third annual ‘Girls Can’ summit hosted by Border City Athletics. Organizers say the event aims to get BIPOC girls involved in sport.

“One in four girls have dropped out of sport due to COVID, just not having the opportunity to be involved and having the camaraderie to be around other females has really stifled their development,” said Kurt Downes, president and head coach of Border City Athletics

“Get girls in sport and staying in sport is really important,” said Olympian Noelle Montcalm.

From basic skills to running drills, participants had the opportunity to learn from four Olympians and elite female athletes.

“I am a three time Olympian now and I want to inspire the girls and say ‘you can do what it takes’ because I did it,” said Crystal Emmanuel.

“Noelle, she was one of the first Olympians that I encountered, so to have that times three is super inspiring for myself,” said Steel Douglas.

Many parents loved the opportunity for their daughters.

“It’s good opportunity for sports for kids at this age. Hopefully in the future we see more black kids in women’s football or other sports too,” said Blessing Ayininoula.

Organizers hope to collect research at the event to understand the biggest hurdles some girls face when it comes to getting involved in sport.

“It’s ok to be unique, to have a different culture, you know to be from an area that’s socially, economically not fantastic, but you can still strive to be amazing, to be great, and you can do it through sport. Why not?” says Downes.

“Hopefully we can inspire a few of them to come on over to the sport world,” Emmanuel added.

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