Keeping youth interested in organized sport can sometimes be a chore — ask any parent who has ever signed their kid up to play.

It can be especially tough for girls. According to a 2008 study by the Women’s Sport Foundation, girls drop out of sport twice as fast as boys do by the age of 14.

And that’s where Yellowknife’s Emma Carey is hoping to make a difference.

The 15-year-old is a member of the national youth advisory council for Fast and Female, a charity started in 2005 by Chandra Crawford, a Canadian Olympian in cross-country skiing and 2006 gold medallist in Torino, Italy. Carey was named to the council in January as the NWT representative and since then, she’s been helping to come up with ideas that can be used as part of the program.

Carey said it was Kaylee Grant, her coach in hockey, who told her about Fast and Female and thought it would be worthwhile to look into.

“I’ve always wanted to help young girls in sports because I know how hard it can be to find female role models,” said Carey. “I’ve had some girls tell me they look up to me and that’s a real good feeling knowing I have that effect on them.”

The focus of Fast and Female is to keep girls between the ages of eight and 14 active in sport and living a healthy lifestyle. Some of the goals include providing positive experiences and giving girls skills in leadership, teamwork and resiliency.

Carey said the council meets virtually on the last Tuesday of each month to talk and brainstorm.

“Lots of girls drop out of sports because they aren’t confident enough or there aren’t any activities for them,” she said. “Our job is to show them what they can do and achieve through sport and keep them interested and engaged.”

And it isn’t just focused solely on one sport, she added.

“It revolves around all sports,” she said. “Every province and territory has at least one person on the council and they come from all sorts of sports: hockey, skiing, we have one who’s in wrestling. No matter your sport, there are different perspectives and that’s what we want.”

Something the council is doing right now is what’s known as the Silver Gummy Program, a five-week virtual workshop that began this past Saturday and will run every Saturday until May 14. It’s designed to help break down barriers girls face in sport with guest speakers jumping in each week to talk about their experiences.

Carey said it’s another way to help build confidence.

“Each session, we break out into groups and talk about ourselves, share our experiences in sport and get girls engaged,” she said. “We want to give them motivation and show them how sport can help them become better at life.”

The workshops begin at 8 a.m. MDT each week and registration can be submitted through the Eventbrite website.

James McCarthy

I've been hanging around the office as the sports editor for the better part of the last 16 years. In August 2022, NNSL Media decided to promote me to the managing editor's position, which I accepted after...

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