Feeling FAB-ulous

mud fit active beautiful FAB Our passion is helping young girls become strong women.
Our focus is reaching youth girls in lower income communities.
Our goal is to inspire youth girls to dream big, live big.
Our strategy is to build their self confidence and goal setting skills.
Our vehicle is our FAB Girls 5 KM Challenge.

Those mandatory 40 hours of volunteer work in high school must have really worked on me. It instilled in me a lifelong passion for helping others and taught me the value of donating ones time to a good cause. (Actually I think my parents may have instilled that in me a bit earlier since I graduated with over 200 volunteer hours, but let’s give some credit to the high school program anyway!) For me, a big part of leading a well rounded life is sharing that life with others. I figure if I have enough joy, love and energy to get me through a day I can use the leftover joy love and energy to help others.

FABphotoOne of the ways I give back to the community is through a program called FAB which stands for FIT ACTIVE BEAUTIFUL. It is a truly inspiring program which was started in early 2009 in the Hamilton community by a wonderful lady named Sharon Gallant. The idea of Fit Active Beautiful was fueled by Sharon’s strong desire to help young girls become strong women. From Sharon’s own struggles as a teen, she understood the importance of supporting and empowering young girls. As a competitive runner and triathlete, and having built a successful career, Sharon experienced firsthand the growth of confidence and success that comes with challenging yourself to set goals and pursue them. Looking for an innovative way to inspire young girls to dream big and live big, she started on a journey to combine the power of sport with goal-setting skills, and developed what is now known as the ‘FAB Girls 5 KM Challenge’.

The FAB Girls 5 KM Challenge is a 12 week program for girls in grade 6, 7 and 8, to train and complete a 5KM run. Last year alone there were over 250 participants and 50 volunteers at 25 locations across the city of Hamilton. Over the course of the program, volunteer coaches take participants through a 12 week journey of goal setting, hard work, self discovery, and finally, goal realization as they train to complete their 5 km run. During weekly sessions from April to June, participants train, play, learn, build important life skills, and form positive and supportive relationships with coaches and each other. Participants finish the program full of pride, confidence and most importantly, armed with a goal-setting framework they can use to pursue any future goal.

A big part of the FAB program is the weekend events; spending a Saturday morning either volunteering or participating in a run, the girls always enjoy a day out. One of their favourite activities is the 3k mud run which takes place in Burlington, Ontario. It is a 3k ‘check up’ for the girls to make sure they are on track to reaching their 5k goal and it is an incredible morning full of mud, fun and friendship!

medal FAB5K fit active beautifulAs a coach for the last three years, I have seen firsthand the incredible energy and passion these young girls approach life with; they want to be better, they want to do better and they want to break the cycle like Sharon did. One particular FAB night we went around the circle and talked about our short term FAB goal. “I want to run 5k in 30mins” “I want to run 5k without stopping” then we expanded on those goals to set a path to understand the steps they would need to take to achieve it. A few weeks later we used the same techniques to talk about long term personal goals. “I want to be an architect” “I want to be a librarian” and when the girls saw the steps they could take to get there it seemed more realistic, more tangible, and it fueled their drive to succeed. Not only does this program inspire girls to become physically fit and healthy but the goal setting techniques learned through our journaling sessions are a transferable life skill that will carry them through the difficult choices they have to make in the future and will help them achieve their dreams. I am so proud to have been their coach and I cannot wait to see where their goals will lead them.

When you conquer a goal so daunting, you weren’t sure you could do it you feel inspired, powerful and strong and that’s exactly what our FAB 5 KM Challenge is all about; empowering and inspiring young girls to dream big and live big!

This program would not be successful without the generous support of the Hamilton community through donations, fundraising events and volunteers. I have found the best way for me to give back is as a coach, but if I have piqued your interest at all there are many ways to get involved with the FAB program. Each fall we host a FAB-ilicous lady’s luncheon and auction, and in June we host a golf tournament at Flamborough Hills Golf and Country Club and the 5KM Community Challenge is open to the public to participate too. There are also opportunities for individuals and business to become FAB program partners, Friends of FAB and Sponsor a FAB Girl or sponsor a FAB girl’s new shoes!

Everyone has different skills and abilities that make them unique; using those skills to give back is an important element to building a strong community. Whatever cause you choose to support either financially or through volunteering, thank you for making our community and our world a better place to live, and thank you for taking the time today to learn about the FAB Program.

Check us out online at www.iamfab.ca on twitter @FABFdn and on Facebook!

Kat Cullen– Kat Cullen
Broadcasting – Television & Communications Media, ’10
Follow Kat @katkx947

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