LETTER FROM OUR FOUNDER
While working at a foundation for homeless youth in 2017, I learned of a local Toronto shelter whose fitness and wellness access had been cut due to a lack of funding. As someone who’s own physical and mental health was greatly impacted by fitness, I understood the impact of movement on physical and mental well-being, and was inspired to reach out and offer to help.
I didn’t want to depend on another organization to start or a fund to appear. I became a certified group fitness instructor. A week later, I was volunteering with Horizons for Youth, teaching weekly group fitness classes.
Bootcamps for Change was inspired by this experience, by the connections formed with the youth I met in the shelter, and by the way something as basic as daily movement can affect positive change. The vision of our organization is to improve the lives of those we serve, by creating weekly in-shelter fitness programming and educational workshops for all youth experiencing homelessness.
As our program has grown, we have pushed ourselves to increase our impact. So we created the #SweatierForTheBetter program, a scholarship to certify homeless youth as personal trainers and group fitness instructors, creating a way for our participants to not only pay the gift of movement forward, but to find employment within the fitness community - dismantling harmful stereotypes that perpetuate self-stigmatization in the population we serve.
Since I began working with youth experiencing homelessness more than a decade ago, I have been driven by the goal of making a lasting impact on their lives, by providing a program and a skill set that sets them on a better course. I, and the Bootcamps for Change team, are relentlessly dedicated to serving that mission.
We hope you’ll join us.
- Katie Heggtveit
Life's most persistent and urgent questions is, what are you doing for others? - Martin Luther King Jr.
Our goal is to create accessible fitness initiatives to everyone, we believe access to fitness can be life-changing and transformative. We facilitate weekly in-shelter fitness programs for homeless youth (16-24) and are based in the GTA, but are excited about our expansion into new cities as we extend our reach nationwide. Our goal is to empower youth through fitness and provide them with a transferable skillset that they can use in seeking employment. We want to empower these youth to gain self-confidence, acquire new skills, while linking them directly with local jobs, opportunities and mentors; using relationships we have authentically built with our ongoing community initiatives. We believe that fitness can break the cycle of poverty through our three pillars: physical health, mental health, and resilience.