Stretch for the Stars Fitness and Wellness Workshop 2017

Janice Jimenez, Jen Andersen, Megan Mclure, Kristi Welsch, Brooke Reeves, Erika Black, front Ellen Young, Vivian Konstantakos

Janice Jimenez, Jen Andersen, Megan Mclure, Kristi Welsch, Brooke Reeves, Erika Black, front Ellen Young, Vivian Konstantakos

We had our fitness and wellness workshop this past February with 11 girls, aged 7-12. This workshop was a lot different than other ones, there’s something about working with these girls that made it feel different. I guess part of it was being there as a woman and thinking, I hope that in 20 years, these girls are here able to stand where I’m standing and be able to do this, be able to stand and help those next in line.

We started off with a yoga session, which for young girls, in my opinion could probably lead to disaster. Honestly, I was waiting for one of them to go from downward dog into a cartwheel, kicking their mat neighbor in the face. Thankfully, not one girl opted to transform a yoga class into gymnastics. Although we started off the session in a little bit of chaos, girls finding their mats, new girls joining and possibly the excitement of it all. For some, maybe uncertainty, we did have one girl say their dad didn’t want them doing stretching. Excuses.Excuses. But who can blame her, it’s something new. You’re too scared to try it, so you just make up an excuse. Been there. Done that. Like every day. Teacher Erika though, took the reigns and started with a breathing/calming exercise. She had everyone rub essential oils on their palms and inhale the oils. One by one the girls did it, some scared they were allergic and yelled out their allergies and honestly, a bit of panic. Erika assured us all that there wasn’t anything harmful. Slowly but surely they were all doing deep breaths in the palms of their hands. The girls were finally somewhat calm and participating in the exercise, most of them anyone. Even if they didn’t participate they were quiet and at least listened. Erika then put on some stunners- yellow shades and said, “never take yourself too seriously.”

 

After yoga we had a Family Medicine doctor from Swedish to come and talk to the girls about positive lifestyle habits, food, sleep and exercise. When she talked about food one girl was very concerned about her habit. So with courage she said, “What about spicy foods? Are they bad for you? I love spicy food.” Gotta love a 9 year-old asking about spicy food!

Throughout doc’s talk volunteers made some smoothie samples for the girls to try. Actually, it was 2 smoothies and 1 juice. We started with what they would probably deem disgusting- coconut milk and frozen blueberries and cold pressed flax seed oil. They drank it, but the jury is still out on that one! A lot of skepticism was felt when we brought out a green juice, loaded with pineapples, apples, spinach, cucumber, lime, celery and avocado, but several of them loved it. Personally, it’s one of my faves. We ended with what I would consider a dessert smoothie- coconut milk, yogurt, fresh raspberries and the key ingredient… chocolate chips! We should’ve used dark chocolate chips versus milk chocolate, but we’re pretty sure they licked their cups with that one! After some awesome smoothie options we carried on to a separate room and the experience they were all waiting for… shopping!!!

Off they went to the retail space we created, over $10,000 in merchandise picked specifically for each girl with idea of keeping a fit life but with style. They rifled through the racks, looking for their favorite colors or items that were pre-selected for them, almost a bit overwhelming for each of the girls. It wasn’t easy for them to make decisions but very easy to give a flat out “NO” to a selection. But what was heard from almost every girl… I get more? And that’s the thing, they did get more.

They got new things. They got things with tags. They made decisions about what they wanted, what they would take home, what would be theirs. Not decisions they ever get. Reflecting on their excitement and what the choices we can make every day, it’s hard not to be thankful. It’s hard to not think of the small choices we make daily that we take for granted- massive wardrobe selections, food choices, where we live, what we can buy and what we can choose not to like because we’re fortunate to have these choices, unfortunately they don’t have many choices and often it seems like the only thing they want is to actually be a choice, for someone to choose them. For someone to be with them forever. A forever commitment to them is a decision some may do, but not enough are willing to make this commitment and to those that can, those are my heroes. Those are the people that will be able to give these girls the opportunity to give to those that are unfortunately next in line.  

Here are a few thank notes F-factor received from the kids after the workshop!