It’s the kind of program Nicole Stetz wishes she had when she was a tween.
Integrating friendship, mentorship, personal development and exercise into a two hour session each week, Sole Girls helps young girls ages 8 to 12 navigate through their tween years by building self-esteem and confidence.
“It has this special place in my heart because it’s a safe space where girls can come and be uniquely them,” said Stetz, a Walnut Grove native, who is partnering with the Township to launch the nine-week program in Langley next week.
“It’s an opportunity to make new friends, meet new people and talk about things going on in their lives. Tweenhood is such a hard time, and it’s when they are figuring out who they are. It’s a time that is also so heavily influenced outside by forces. The girls can come to this place and know that who they are is perfect, it’s great, it’s who they need to be.”
Sole Girls — which stands for support, open-minded, love and enthusiasm — was founded in North Vancouver five years ago by Ashley Wiles, a life coach and Ironman competitor, who was inspired to create the program by the Amanda Todd YouTube video about suicide.
After much success in the Vancouver area, Sole Girls is expanding to the Fraser Valley for the first time. Stetz is leading nine-week sessions at Richard Bulpitt Elementary on Saturday mornings from 9 to 11 a.m. (beginning Jan. 13) and Wednesday nights from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. (beginning Jan. 17).
There will also be a free class offered on Wednesday, Jan. 10 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. as part of the Township’s “try it free week.”
“My personal mission in life is to spread more love in this world, and empowering children, specifically, to spread that love. So that is really why I wanted to get into it, and I just love what Sole Girls stood for,” Stetz said.
“I want to give girls the tools that I learned at an older age so they can be better equipped to face life’s challenges and navigate that crazy (tween) age. If they have that strong foundation, they are better able to stick to the values of who they are and make smarter choices that will make them happy and strong females.”
The classes are split 50/50 between indoor and outdoor activities. In the first half, the girls discuss topics such as friendship, health, nutrition, goal setting and anxiety, before heading outdoors to explore nature and exercise. They also practise long distance running, at the end of the nine weeks, participate in a 5 km fun run.
“For me, personally, running is one thing that’s really so beneficial for my mental health,” Stetz said.
“And being outdoors — that grounding, natural setting — it’s inspiring, it’s energizing. Being in that environment is also so great for your mental health. It’s definitely a tool that I have used for the last two years.”
Each nine-week program costs $279 and is open to girls from all communities in the Lower Mainland. To register, visit recexpress.tol.ca and type in keyword “sole girls.”
Stetz also offers workshops, day camps, and weekly sessions to other community groups and schools. Those interested can email email@example.com.
For more on Sole Girls, visit www.solegirls.org.