Gaspereau resident makes prestigious Most Influential Women list

Ashley Thompson athompson@hantsjournal.ca
Published on January 30, 2016

Rachel Bedingfield, director of parks and recreation for the Town of Kentville, has been named a Women of Influence for 2015 by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS).

©Ashley Thompson

GASPEREAU - A Kings County woman is receiving national recognition as a person of influence.

The Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) has selected Rachel Bedingfield as one of 25 Most Influential Women honourees for 2015.

Fellow honourees include Olympic gold medalist bobsled athlete Kaillie Humphries, Canadian Women’s soccer team captain Christine Sinclair, Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne and several CEOs or presidents of some of the top sporting organizations in the country.

“I'm still in shock. When I read the other names on the list, names of women that I myself look up to, I feel humbled to be included. And I feel overwhelmed,” said Bedingfield.

“I have received emails from across the country congratulating me and I am amazed at how many people are rooting for me and for the cause, and it's unbelievably inspiring.”

Bedingfield, along with Linda Atkinson, co-chairs WomenActive NS (WANS), a provincial organization that aims to create more opportunities for girls and women within sport, recreation and physical activity.

“We are targeting women and girls to give them the resources they need to become involved with these sectors. This could include training opportunities, advocacy material, supporting efforts to get more women on boards, in coaching positions, and involved in sport and recreation as a participant,” said Bedingfield, who is excited to be “part of the solution.”

In her role with the Town of Kentville, Bedingfield focuses on creating a wealth of options for all, including vulnerable populations.

“In 2015, she led several initiatives addressing gender equity in recreation and physical activity, including providing free fitness passes to women living in a transition house, and having female change rooms installed in rinks,” reads Bedingfield’s Most Influential Women 2015 profile on the CAAWS website.

Crediting town staff and council for their support, Bedingfield says Kentville’s recreation department approaches each task with equity and fairness in mind.

“We know, for example, that women use our trail systems less often than men, and we know that a large part of this reason is because they feel unsafe,” she said.  “So viewing our trail development system through a gender equity lens allows us to think about things like lighting, exit points, buddy systems, tree density and signage. We work very hard to help break down as many barriers as possible so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of participating in recreation.”

Proud of the progress made within WomenActive NS and the Town of Kentville, Bedingfield feels it’s important to take the time to acknowledge achievements.

“We need to be celebrating our successes because it inspires others to aim for great things.”

Learn more about WomenActive NS at www.womenactive.ca, or view the full Most Influential Women 2015 list at http://www.caaws.ca/grants-and-recognition/most-influential-women-list/most-influential-women-2015/.