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. 

We remove barriers for youth experiencing homelessness to reach their full potential through physical activity and industry employment. 



We believe fitness can break the cycle of poverty. Through cross-sector collaboration, every at-risk youth will thrive through better health and a foundation for sustainable livelihood. By dismantling stereotypes and improving the physical and mental health of those we serve, we alleviate burdens on Canada’s healthcare and social welfare systems. 


Organizing accessible physical activity for at-risk youth on a consistent basis is essential for overall strength, mental well-being and in the prevention of illness and disease. 

Physical health is intertwined with mental health, as those who experience less stress get sick less often, and in turn, are more productive at work and take less sick days to avoid financial difficulty.

Youth experiencing poverty are more likely to be physically ill due to little physical exercise opportunities in shelters. This can then in turn become time away from work due to poor physical or mental health, thus continuing the poverty cycle. By implementing our fitness programs we are then one step closer to assisting in breaking that cycle.

©2020 by Bootcamps for Change