Girls With Gusto, a pilot running program for girls, was created in September 2014 in Regent Park, one of Toronto’s most diverse neighbourhoods.

Girls With Gusto empowers girls through running

Girls from grades seven and eight signed up to participate with very little experience in the sport of running. Running practice alone is not enough to kindle inspiration and change. Girls With Gusto is focused on creating unforgettable experiences. On Saturday, October 25, 2014, the participating girls completed the Toronto Women's 5K presented by GoodLife Fitness® for Women and had the opportunity to see their sport in action.

The Impact

Girls With Gusto is focused on adolescent girls because of the vulnerability of that age. Participation in sports that promote fitness — such as running — challenges and expands norms that have previously limited girls and women. 

Girls With Gusto aims to:

  • Increase physical fitness through fun sessions that include discussions with coaches, a training run, post-run stretching and a healthy post-run snacks
  • Provide a physical and emotional space where it is safe for each girl to run and interact
  • Provide girls with access to strong female role models and the support of a team

The Road Is Not Always Straight

With the support from enthusiastic and knowledgeable teachers, all program costs were covered by a crowdfunding campaign heavily supported by the Toronto running community (including elite runners and race directors). In addition to monetary support, we received shoes and clothing donations to enable the girls to enjoy their sport to the fullest.

For more information, read Coach Kate Gustafson's blog on her experience working with the girls in Regent Park. For more information on the Girls With Gusto's Indiegogo crowdfunding platform, visit campaign page.