FitSpirit, First Lady Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, and Timing

You know how some things just seem to have the best timing? This is about a moment that came at the right time for my son.

As a family, we are pretty healthy and active. We eat right, play sports and get outside as much as possible. Whether it’s winter or summer we participate in things together as a family and stay moving. I also make it a point to find the healthiest, safest and most delicious foods for my family and almost all our meals are homemade. If they are not homemade, they are still a healthier choice.

So when my son started coming home talking about the new “mean words” being used at school, and directed to him, my heart sank.



I don’t usually like to mention my children by their age, but in this instance I think it is very important. You may be very surprised to know this is the discussion happening between eight year olds.

It started a couple of weeks back and I listened. I’m so grateful my boys are open and talk about things that happen at school. A lot of parents have mentioned to me they get a “fine” when they ask their children how their school day went. So having an open conversation can be difficult if your child is already quiet.

We have talks during dinner about their days, and my son’s friends would question his lunch and how much he had. Let me just say for the record, my son has a good appetite due to his physical activity and what he eats are fruits, vegetables, hummus, whole grain, etc. But to the kids, it just looks like a lot.

This was bothering my son so much so that when we went to his annual checkup with the pediatrician, it was my son that brought up his weight. I cannot sing the praises for my pediatrician enough – he is a wonderful doctor with deep understanding of children.

He was furious.

He spoke to us all, and especially reassured my son that he was the perfect height and weight for his age.

Time passed, we spoke more, tried to help him through this situation. It was starting to get better, I thought. And then those mean words surfaced again.

And then I got this invitation to the FitSpirit press briefing with none other than Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau. That’s right, I was invited to hear a private talk with our First Lady here in Montreal.

If you are not aware, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau has been a longstanding advocate of health and self-esteem. She has spoken openly about the weight disorder she dwelt and during WE Day in Ottawa she addressed it to the thousands of youth listening to her and PM Justin Trudeau with big ears.

My son and I were there for WE Day Ottawa and when I told him I was going to hear Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau speak, he was so excited! I was eager to hear what FitSpirit was all about.

Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, Sylvie Bernier, and Claudine Labelle. Photograph taken by Caroline Bourbonniere

The FitSpirit Foundation (FillActive in French) was created from the desire to help young girls understand the benefits of physical activity. During the tween and teen years, our bodies change, we feel uncomfortable and our self-esteem is low in many cases, which causes young girls to shy away from physical activities. In adolescent years, 96% of girls do not attain the recommended hours of physical activity for those very reasons. But a healthy and active lifestyle has been proven to help with self-esteem and a positive body image. And engaging in sports and fitness in a group can be even more effective.

FitSpirit is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2007 by Claudine Labelle. Since its creation, FitSpirit has created awareness among more than 110,000 girls. The concept is to help young girls train over a 8-10 week period for a 5/10k run. The girls follow training with a program leader at their school. Ambassadors also visit the schools to help cheer on the team.

After the press briefing, we had time for a couple of questions. I jumped up. I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass me by. My question was this:

“I have three boys and unfortunately in school now, the mean words to surface are geared around weight. What suggestion do you have for parents as a parent yourself and an important figure to help children at this stage?”

I recorded her answer. Please excuse my jittery hands:

After the other couple of questions were asked, I was able to shake Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau’s hand and thank her for taking my question. We spoke more about weight and my son and how thrilled he would be to hear her answer to a subject he is dealing with. She requested I take a picture for my son (more than thrilled to oblige!) and she ended by saying sincerely to me:

“How he handles this situation will help him through anything life has to throw at him.”

I almost cried. She was right.  This is an age where innocence is lost in some cases, and words begin to cut into feelings. I remember. In fact, when my son was telling me how he felt, my heart was aching for him, and remembering how I felt at his age when this picking began. As hard as it is to watch and relive, and wish that it would not happen again, what’s worse is not helping. I’m grateful to have had to opportunity to speak with Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau about this topic for myself and my son, and now for you, dear readers.

To find out more about the FitSpirit Foundation, visit them on Twitter, Facebook and their website.

As well, mark your calendars for May 24th, Montreal. The FitSpirit run will take place and it is not to be missed! To check other dates in other locations, click here.

PS This wasn’t just a talk the talk event, this was a walk the walk (or run the run). First Lady Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau promptly ran through downtown Montreal after the meeting, with the FitSpirit Girls. SO! How do you think these young girls felt to be able to run with Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau? Watch:

She went back to run the end with every girl. Like she said “No one is left behind”. Wonderful mentality, don’t you think?

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1 comment

Dahna Weber April 23, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Love this post ….the message from you and Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau is so important for boys, girls, women and men. We all take part in this. Self-esteem is fragile and needs to be protected and encouraged in our kids and ourselves. Time for me to #walkthetalk or #runthetalk


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