Water fun

More fe­males are get­ting into pad­dle board­ing events.

Annapolis Valley Register - - FRONT PAGE - BY KIRK STARRATT KINGSCOUNTYNEWS.CA Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

In an age when young girls are constantly bom­barded by mes­sages that serve to un­der­mine self­es­teem or draw body im­age into ques­tion, a re­lax­ing group out­ing on pad­dle­boards can be highly ther­a­peu­tic.

Girls On Boards founder Mia Lock­hart of Wolfville will be­gin fa­cil­i­tat­ing group pad­dle­board trips for teenage girls again in June, once the water starts to warm up. She also fa­cil­i­tates trips for women.

“They pay for a nice three- or four-hour ex­pe­ri­ence out in St. Margaret’s Bay and do­ing that, they’re also help­ing to pay all the ex­penses of run­ning the teen trips,” Lock­hart said. “It’s kind of a nice cir­cle of shar­ing and it’s fun for ev­ery­body, re­ally. Ev­ery­body en­joys the days out on the water.”

Lock­hart takes groups of ap­prox­i­mately six girls at a time on pad­dle­board­ing trips to var­i­ous lakes across the Annapolis Val­ley, Lake Banook in Dart­mouth and St. Margaret’s Bay. She’s cur­rently look­ing for a cou­ple more lead­ers to help fa­cil­i­tate ad­di­tional trips.

Her love of pad­dle­board­ing be­gan while she was in Costa Rica with her daugh­ters. She said shar­ing that em­pow­er­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and con­nect­ing with them on the water was what brought the Girls On Boards ini­tia­tive to fruition.

“Pad­dle­board­ing is fun, it’s new, and it’s some­thing that a lot of girls haven’t tried,” she said.

Lock­hart was re­cently nom­i­nated by Women Ac­tive Nova Sco­tia for a pro­vin­cial Trend­set­ter Girls On Boards founder Mia Lock­hart of Wolfville has been in­spired to help teen girls get out­doors and ac­tive by in­tro­duc­ing them to a sport that she’s pas­sion­ate about – pad­dle board­ing.

Award for her role in found­ing Girls On Boards. Women Ac­tive is a na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion with the goal of get­ting more girls and women out par­tic­i­pat­ing in sports and phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity while sup­port­ing them with coach­ing and lead­er­ship.

And help­ing girls be­come ac­tive is es­pe­cially im­por­tant now. Data from a study con­ducted a few years ago, she says, il­lus­trates that Grade 11 girls are among the un­health­i­est peo­ple in the prov­ince. A lot of girls end up leav­ing tra­di­tional sports be­tween

Grades 9 and 12 be­cause of body im­age, the com­pet­i­tive na­ture of the ac­tiv­i­ties or sim­ply be­cause it’s no longer fun for them.

Lock­hart said get­ting girls in­volved in pad­dle­board­ing is a nice way to in­tro­duce a dif­fer­ent sport

that is trendy and an en­joy­able recre­ational ac­tiv­ity. The sport is gain­ing in pop­u­lar­ity across the coun­try.

Lock­hart said she dealt with eating dis­or­ders dur­ing her teen years and rec­og­nizes girls that age are of­ten faced with is­sues sur­round­ing body im­age. Lock­hart said it’s im­por­tant for girls to find healthy things that feel good for their body that isn’t fo­cused on im­age, es­pe­cially now in the age of so­cial me­dia.

She said pad­dle­board­ing car­ries the added ben­e­fit of the “med­i­ta­tive state” in­volved in get­ting out on the water and en­joy­ing na­ture.

“Any time you get out on the water, you get to leave ev­ery­thing be­hind, so that’s the ben­e­fit and it is a good work­out,” Lock­hart said. “Tak­ing the girls out, I love the fact of tak­ing them away from their phones and their life.”

She said some of the girls are scared at first but she takes things slowly as they learn to em­brace the new skills. Af­ter paddling a bit, they huddle on the water and talk. Con­ver­sa­tions of­ten sur­round body im­age, pres­sures the girls are fac­ing or things in their lives that they love.

“The con­ver­sa­tions are bet­ter on the water, ba­si­cally,” Lock­hart said. “They open up a bit more.”

Lock­hart also teaches SUP (Stand Up Pad­dle­board) Yoga classes at the Town of Wolfville’s Reser­voir Park dur­ing the sum­mer months.

KIRK STARRATT

SUB­MIT­TED

A Girls On Boards group pad­dle board­ing out­ing.

KIRK STARRATT

Girls On Boards founder Mia Lock­hart of Wolfville demon­strates pad­dle board­ing at Wolfville’s Reser­voir Park on May 15

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