A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Katie – one of the co-founders of Bootcamps for Change, an incredible initiative dedicated to homeless youth. They run weekly in-shelter fitness programs and host monthly fundraising bootcamps as well.
You know those people that you meet and immediately connect with? Yeah, Katie is one of those. She is filled with such positive energy, honesty and humility. You can see her passion for Bootcamps for Change so clearly in how she speaks – it is seriously so inspiring.
Katie reached out to me after reading my article on How I Healed My Relationship with Food & My Body because she had a similar experience to me with disordered eating. She found ways to heal HER relationship with food using these three mega inspiring pillars: Mental Health, Physical Health and Resilience. Since she is the best, she decided to take these three pillars and create Bootcamps for Change. Not only do they run programs for youth in shelters, but they also work to break the cycle of poverty.
Bootcamps for change uses teamwork and skill building to teach youths firstly, how to care for themselves and secondly, how to teach fitness classes. As such, they can reinvest their efforts into the community, find work in the fitness industry and help themselves and others simultaneously.
This concept hit home with me because fitness and nutrition were two major players in me recovering my mental health after a long stint of disordered eating. Katie and I both experienced firsthand the incredible effects that taking care of your body and prioritizing health can have on your mental and physical health. We were also incredibly fortunate to be able to afford the time and resources it took to heal our bodies and minds. For youth living in shelters, it is that much harder for them to find access to help and services to do with mental health.
Access to exercise is largely impacted by the ability to afford sports programming, fitness classes, gym memberships and nutritious foods. Giving the youth in shelters access to physical activity as well as teaching them to become personal trainers and fitness instructors is a powerful tool to help break this cycle.
What struck me the most about this program is that it helps gives the youth in shelters a purpose. Something bigger to work towards, a reason to be resilient.
Often after the fitness classes, Katie asks the youth group if anyone has any skills that they want to share. In the past, they have shared things like self defence skills. This small gesture helps to build up their confidence and reminds them just how much they have to offer. Once again, providing them with a purpose and reason to be resilient. It helps them to connect with the community, feel less alone and work towards bettering themselves and those around them.
“Bootcamps for Change” in-shelter fitness programming happens every week:
- Mondays at 3:30pm
- Wednesdays at 3:30pm
- Fridays at 1:30pm
Their bootcamp fundraising events take place on the third Saturday of every month at 2pm
Currently, they are in the process of expanding their in-shelter fitness programs to run Canada-wide! These girls are unstoppable.
To get involved as a volunteer fitness instructor or to learn more about this amazing initiative, you can contact the co-founders:
“Katie Heggtveit” at 647-244-0097
“Kam Kuzminski” at 306-501-1510
I can’t wait for their next event!