As young girls approach adolescence, their participation in sports drops by 22%¹ . And that can shape their relationship with sports as adults. But volunteer mentor Melissa Sheridan is determined to change that – in more ways than one.
For the past nine years, Melissa has volunteered as a Big Sister mentor in Squamish. Over the years, she has mentored two local children, but she wanted to do even more to help girls and women of all ages. That’s when Melissa launched a women’s mountain biking race that also raises funds to support girls’ confidence and health through Big Brothers Big Sisters Sea to Sky Corridor.
“I had been involved with the Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association and I’d noticed that very few women would participate in the races,” explains Melissa. “I realized there must have been an intimidation factor. A lot of women wanted to volunteer, but they wouldn’t want to actually race.”
In 2012, Hot On Your Heels was born. “It’s a women’s race, and if you’re not a woman, you can volunteer. I really wanted to encourage women and girls who were nervous about being in a race,” explains Melissa. Funds raised are donated to the Go Girls! mentoring program which encourages confidence in pre-teen and teen girls around physical activity, healthy eating, and self-esteem. To date, Hot On Your Heels has raised $30,000 to support local children.
“The Go Girls! program was just starting up in Squamish at the time, and I knew I wanted to put money from the event back into Go Girls!” she says. This meaningful event is so popular that registration can sell out in hours. “I thought Hot On Your Heels was something that would fade in two or three years, but the response has been so incredible to support Go Girls! We have created a culture of empowerment while giving back to the community and to each other.”
While Melissa is really enthusiastic about the fundraiser, her greatest passion is ensuring that children have mentors. Even before becoming a Big Sister in Squamish, Melissa volunteered as a mentor in Banff. Above all, she cherishes the quality time that she spends with her “Little.”
“I have worked with different children, from different cultures, ages, backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, male and female. They all need the same thing. A positive role model who shows them they care, just by showing up consistently.”
¹ 2014 Canada Youth Sports Report by Solutions Research Group
Our mentoring programs are available free of charge to children across 15 communities in Greater Vancouver and the Sea to Sky Corridor. Learn more about how you can volunteer or donate today. You can find more information about the next Hot On Your Heels event on Facebook.