CANMORE – With recent global recognition given to Canmore’s Chandra Crawford’s Fast and Female initiative, local athletes praised the girls-in-sport-first organization that helps to shape lives.
Crawford, an Olympic cross-country skiing gold medallist and recent inductee into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, earlier this month, received the Continental Trophy for the Americas from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Women and Sports Awards for her work to inspire and empower girls to stay in sport.
“It’s so amazing to receive this award from the IOC when there are so many fantastic organizations in North America working to make the world a better place for girls every single day. I’m really blown away,” wrote Crawford in an email.
Statistics show that girls are six times more likely to leave sports than boys in their early teens.
According to Women’s Sports Foundation, an organization dedicated to creating leaders by ensuring all girls have access to sports, the reasons why girls drop out at a higher rate are lack of access, safety and transportation issues, social stigma, decreased quality of experience, cost, and lack of positive role models.
Founded in 2005, Fast and Female has a team of athletes and ambassadors driving to change the situation for young female athletes.
Canmore’s Morgan Rogers was just nine years old when she attended her first Fast and Female event. Now 21, she’s come full-circle with the organization, as the cross-country skier is an ambassador to the next generation of girls.
“Sport is simply the vehicle with which girls can develop powerful skills such as positivity, resilience, and confidence, while also understanding the importance of having a strong, healthy body,” wrote Rogers in an email. “I would not be the empowered, confident woman I am today without my experiences with Fast and Female, and believe all girls are deserving of this.”
The events feature Olympian keynote speakers, an array of young women ambassadors, leadership seminars, fun and social activities and parent seminars, and reach over 3,000 girls aged eight to 18 annually.
With a list of testimonials on its website, some being participants in Fast and Female events, and are now encouraging the next generation of girls in sport.
Another Fast and Female alumni is biathlete Erin Yungblut, who’s also the organization’s communications and media coordinator.
“At age 17, I was skiing behind my role models as a Fast and Female participant, and by 19, I was on the Junior National team and still attending Fast and Female events,” wrote Yungblut in an email.
“Going from a participant during those vital teenage years, to inspiring young girls myself as an ambassador, and now working for the organization … I can truly say that Fast and Female has shaped who I am, not just as a biathlete, but as an empowered woman.”
Success stories from the initiative, and a determination to keep young women active in sport, is what has caught the IOC’s renowned eye.
Crawford was “blown away” to receive the award.
“The thing I keep coming back to while winning awards this fall (IOC, Bruce Kidd Leadership Award at the Canadian Sport Awards and being inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame) is how it’s the details and effort that hundreds and hundreds of athletes and volunteers put into Fast and Female that makes it so great,” wrote Crawford.
“The passion for empowerment-through-sports for girls that I feel from volunteers and grateful parents are all because of the interactions they have with our athlete ambassadors at events.”