Fast and Female hosts Anchorage ‘Champ Chat’

On Sept. 18, young girls from all over Anchorage had the privilege to participate in Fast and Female’s ‘Champ Chat’ hosted by local Olympians Kikkan Randall, Sadie Bjornsen and Holly Brooks.

Fast and Female is a non-profit organization started in 2005 by Chandra Crawford, an Olympic gold medalist in cross-country skiing, to “inspire and be inspired.” Fast and Female has a presence all over the world, including the United States, Canada and Australia. Depending on the length of event, either a full day Summit or a half day Champ Chat, the organization has had the opportunity to reach and inspire young girls for over ten years.

The participants working together in a team building activity. Photo credit: Elena Cano

Anchorage was able to host a Champ Chat which was focused on developing skills about staying active and continuing involvement in sports past the age of 14, which is when many girls begin to drop out of sports. Joined by upwards of 300 young girls, the Olympians and ambassadors from UAA’s sports teams, the Alaska Airlines Center held the first Anchorage Champ Chat for 3 and a half hours.

UAA track and field athlete and Fast and Female ambassador, sophomore Yvonne Jeschke, participated in the event to be a role model for the young girls.

“I think that Fast and Female was a beneficial event for the girls, because they were introduced to a variety of aspects that play a role in continuing active lives,” Jeschke said.

To began the event off, the Fast and Female philosophy was explained to the participants and introductions and ice breakers were utilized to get the girls familiar with one another. Groups were then broken off to give the participants more age-related activities, a younger group brought together girls under the age of 12 while the older group encompassed the remaining girls, ages 13-18.

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The younger girls were able to learn about leading an active lifestyle by partaking in direct skill related activities to familiarize them with their bodies.

Jeschke said the younger girls benefited by learning activities most of them never experienced, such as yoga and pilates, taught by professional instructors. Not only did this help the younger girls gain valuable fitness skills, but it also incorporated direct physical activity into an educational lesson.

The older girls split off to learn more about specific sports nutrition and partake in skill related activities. Working with the older and professional athletes in a “teen seminar,” the girls learned about staying healthy in the future by leading an active lifestyle.

“They learned from a nutritionist about proper nutrition for athletes and especially girls in this critical age. It is important for them to know that their body changes and with that their need for certain nutrients,” Jeschke said.

This event was a significant stepping stone to inspire young girls in Anchorage by working with Olympians like Kikkan Randall.

The girls sit together in another skill related activity. Photo credit: Elena Cano

They benefited tremendously from “stations featuring agility, relays, team building, human pyramids, nutrition games, and a mini-film festival,” Randall said.

Olympian Holly Brooks also took part as a prominent role model in this event by stressing that sports and staying active in whatever way it may be is an exceptionally important part in the physical and mental aspects of life.

“The bothersome part of the equation and the inspiration behind Fast and Female is that in the early teenage years girls drop out of sports at a rate much, much higher than their male counterparts,” Brooks said. Whether it’s a social stigma, the lack of opportunity, access, or any number of reasons it is still a problem.

The main philosophy of Fast and Female, “keep girls healthy, happy and active in sports through their teens.” It is the key every community needs to make a change in young girls lives.

Of all people to take key fitness advice from, Olympians are the ones young athletes should take extra time to pay attention to.

“I have benefited tremendously from my participation in sports. Sports have given me a healthy body, confidence to chase big dreams, amazing friends and opportunities to travel around the world,” Randall said.

An important aspect to remember is that staying active not only benefits a person physically and mentally, but it opens up a whole new lifestyle to follow, a whole new perspective in life.

“My participation in sports has opened many jobs for me including amazing travel, meeting cool people, job opportunities, and much, much more,” Brooks said.

Fast and Female is a beneficial organization that Anchorage was fortunate enough to experience. To learn more about the organization and see pictures and videos of their events, visit their website or Facebook page.

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