Here’s some much-needed happiness amid way too much sad news: A program called Little Bellas uses cycling to encourage girls to reach their potential. Aww!
Little Bellas offers summer camps in Vermont, Colorado, and California that pair girls age 7 to 16 with a female mentor. Girls either go on a weekly mountain bike ride during the summer or do a multi-day summer camp. Explains its site:
We use mountain biking as a vehicle to teach the importance of teamwork, goal-setting, and participation in a healthy lifestyle … [M]entors and girls ride together at a local trail network and focus on improving skills as well as participate in team-building activities.
Pro cyclists (and sisters) Lea and Sabra Davison started Little Bellas when they realized teen girls who’d once been fascinated by mountain biking were instead choosing sports like basketball or soccer. The Davison’s connections mean girls get to meet professional mountain bikers from around the world, including former Olympians, and ask them about scars, shredding, and starting out. (Maybe Little Bellas can help change cycling’s huge gender gap.)
According to Lea, the program helps girls build confidence. “Campers went from walking down hills to descending effortlessly. We saw girls turn from timid campers to pump track experts,” she wrote after one Vermont camp session. Well, gosh! And not to get all Oprah on you, but sports can help girls deal with stress, learn to challenge themselves, and see their bodies as powerful, not ornamental.