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‘Paddle your own journey’

Mia Lockhart is hoping to teach Annapolis Valley teens about paddling their own journey with a trip to New Glasgow this summer to learn about the inspiring story of Viola Desmond.
Mia Lockhart is hoping to teach Annapolis Valley teens about paddling their own journey with a trip to New Glasgow this summer to learn about the inspiring story of Viola Desmond. - Contributed

Valley paddleboarding group hopes to bring group of girls to New Glasgow this summer to learn about Viola Desmond’s story

A non-profit group in the Annapolis Valley is planning to combine the story of Viola Desmond’s stand against racial segregation in 1946 with a paddle boarding experience in nature.

The goal? To empower young women and teach body positivity.

Girls On Boards wants to bring 12 teen girls from across Nova Scotia to the theatre in New Glasgow where Desmond was arrested for refusing the leave a seat in a section reserved for whites. The teens will learn how she stood up for her convictions, eventually leading to her being the first Canadian black woman to appear on a banknote, the $10 bill.

The trip in August will also include two days of paddle boarding on a nearby river and the ocean. The participants will be introduced to other inspiring female role models and create an art piece to remind them of the experience.

Mia Lockhart is one of the organizers of Girls On Boards. She was inspired by Viola Desmond’s courageous story that is commemorated on the $10 bill.

“All of the experiences we do for teen girls are about empowering them and helping them find their own personal power. We want to use the experience of standing up on the water as a metaphor to bring to life the story behind Viola Desmond standing up for her convictions,” Lockhart said in an interview.

“The whole experience of standing up on the water is very empowering. It looks hard, but people realize, ‘I can do this.’ To do it, however, you have to trust yourself, trust your core. And then, you can paddle your own journey. It is an opportunity for them to connect with her story as well as that feeling of standing up for yourself and finding your own strength.”

Girls on Boards offers sponsored paddleboarding trips to locations across the province for teen girls, which are paid for with income generated by guided paddleboarding trips taken by the public.

Fifteen-year-old Olivia Pineo is one of the 200 teen girls who have been paddle boarding with Girls on Boards since it began in 2017.

“Mia makes everyone feel safe, even if you haven’t paddled before,” she said in an interview.

“I like being on the water. It cleared my head being out there and I enjoyed myself. I find it builds my confidence. I think it’s a really good program. I would definitely recommend it.”

Lockhart said the group has raised about one-third of the $2,400 needed to pay for the event.

Go online: Information about Girls On Boards and this event is available at www.girlsonboard.co.

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