Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair.-- Nelson Mandela
The power of sports and fitness is truly astonishing. We’re not talking about the obvious benefits such as increased metabolic rate, cardiovascular fitness, or strength and endurance. The kind of power being referred to here goes way beyond all of those things- relegating them as the proverbial "icing on the cake."
We’re talking about the feeling you get when you cross the finish line. The empowerment of reaching any physical goal you once viewed as unattainable. It’s the pride and sense of accomplishment, no matter your sport. Imagine if we could bottle that sense of pride, self-esteem, self-confidence and joy - and give it to girls in need of a "sporting chance" in our community.
A local non-profit organization called Girls With Sole (founded in 2009) is doing just that with a sports bottle full of water and a variety of fitness and wellness programs free of charge for girls who have experienced abuse of any kind, or who are at-risk. Activities include yoga, dance, running and traditional team sports so they can learn firsthand what athletics and fitness can do for the mind, body and soul.
Founder and Executive Director, Liz Ferro, was a foster child until she was adopted at age two. She personally experienced sexual abuse as a young child and credits athletics and fitness for giving her the self-esteem and inner strength to overcome difficult times and to view her body as purposeful and important. The goal of Girls With Sole is to bring this same result to girls who are in need of an outlet for their emotions, a boost to their self-confidence, a place to foster a sense of belonging, and a learning tool to cope with adversity in a healthy manner.
Abuse takes many forms and includes bullying, neglect, emotional abuse, dating violence, physical abuse, the witnessing of violent acts, and others. Any girl referred to Girls With Sole by a parent, guardian, teacher, dietician, social service agency, or other source, receives an enrollment packet. Once the packet is completed and returned, a girl can be registered by a parent or guardian for programs free of charge.
The percentage of girls ages 10 to 18 who report some type of abuse is staggering. Girls With Sole introduces girls to the power that only fitness and wellness can bring. Focusing on healthy living, good nutrition, exercise and wellness will help girls make healthier choices in other areas of their lives, making a positive impact on our community as a whole.
On November 10, you can help support Girls With Sole by going to one of three Lucky Shoe Store locations and shopping! You can’t beat that! Girls with Sole will receive 10% of the day's sales purchases of Vera Bradley and Brighton! A raffle of swag bags will be held, with a raffle ticket costing only $1 and the proceeds going to support Girls With Sole. You may also register for a chance to win one of three weekend getaways to Sawmill Creek Resort in Huron. WQAL’s morning show host, Katherine Boyd, will be at the South Park Mall location on November 10 between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Lucky Shoe stores are located in South Park Mall, Akron and Canton. For more information about the event, visit Lucky Shoes at www.luckyshoes.com.
Girls With Sole was chosen Best New Charity of the Midwest Region by the CLASSY Awards in 2012 and has been featured in Ohio Magazine, Runner’s World Magazine, Traditional Home Magazine, Live Well Magazine, Town & Country Magazine, CBC Magazine, Crain’s Cleveland Business, and Hope for Women Magazine. A documentary film, "The Finish Line", is currently being made about Girls With Sole and the first screening goal is the 2014 Cleveland International Film Festival. For more information, visit GirlsWithSole.org.
Liz Ferro is the author of the book, "Finish Line Feeling." She is on a "Quest For Sole" to run a marathon in all 50 states for Girls With Sole. Liz is the recipient of the 2011 Classic Woman Award from Traditional Home Magazine, the 2011 American Red Cross of Greater Cleveland Hero Award, and the 2012 Longines Women Who Make a Difference Award from Town & Country Magazine.