One of the most important players in the life of a teenager is the school system, and Claudine is strengthening its capacity to support girls in their physical, mental, and social development. She is developing train-the-trainer relationships with schools and teachers, getting them involved in supporting young girls to become more active. Claudine works closely with teachers to create FitClub’s that enable young girls, who are often intimidated by sports, to get together to exercise. The training plan is designed for all fitness levels so anyone can participate. The more active FitClub members are invited to motivate their less active teammates to get moving. Claudine also brings extra resources to schools, like kinesiologists and nutritionists, and thus changes mindsets within the school system by introducing a much needed focus on teenage girls’ health. Furthermore, she offers a service to youth organizations that gives young women the opportunity to partake in sports. This gives girls the chance to experiment with a variety of physical activities, all in an unthreatening and casual environment. Claudine also partners with large citizen organizations (COs), like the YWCA and creates programs for their members.
Former elite cyclist Claudine Labelle is passionate about sport, and she has always known about the benefits of exercise for physical and mental health.While training at an elite level, Claudine became involved with young girls from disadvantaged backgrounds with the goal of teaching them the importance ofphysical activity. She then found that adopting a healthy lifestyle and being fit is generally more important than competing. The alarming statistics on sedentary behaviour among teenage girls led her to the idea of developing a training program exclusively for girls. She founded FitSpirit in 2007 to encourage girls aged 12 to 17 to be active. Two years later, the FitClub training program was launched. The objective of FitClub is to introduce participants to their first 5K or10K race through a training program that runs 8 to 10 weeks, in which they signup on a voluntary basis, and which caps off with a major regional event. After meeting with participants, Claudine found that training in a recreational setting has a beneficial effect on self-esteem and staying in school. To date, more than 110,000 teenage girls from high schools in Ontario and Quebec have participated in the program.