This is the seventh post in the Confidence Stories series in partnership with Always®. Confidence Stories feature stories, tips and ideas to support girls, build their confidence, and encourage them to Keep Going #LikeAGirl.

Nikki met her mentor Hailey at a Boys and Girls Club of Hamilton program that partners mentors with girls to encourage their interest in physical activity and team sports (MacMentors and On the Move Girls). Their relationship has grown ever since, and they both have thoughts on why sports are key to fueling girls’ confidence. The Boys and Girls Club of Hamilton is a past recipient of funding from the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s Girls’ Fund.

How did you and Nikki meet?

Hailey (H): The first day I met Nikki she walked into the gym and sat on the bleachers with a group of her friends. It was a week day in September and there were kids playing basketball on the court. Tamara, a fulltime staff member, introduced me to Nikki and her friends and we had a brief but enlightening conversation about their day, school, friends, and why they weren’t playing. They said they didn’t feel comfortable enough to play. The next time I met her was in the program that started a few weeks later.

What does your mentoring relationship look like? What kinds of things did you do together?

H: I’ve had some amazing women mentor me in my life, and I knew I wanted to recreate that experience for other girls. I found that I could relate to a lot of the trials and tribulations that the girls were going through, so it was an organic connection. The most important part of being a mentor is accountability. If you say you’re going to be somewhere, you need to be there. Trust is something that is essential in developing a mentor/mentee relationship.

Nikki (N): When I first met Hailey she was a big role model to me, I wanted to be her when I grew up. Hailey started coming around more often and we got really close – she taught me to be more confident with who I was, she introduced me to new things, and I instantly fell in love with sports.

Why does girls’ mentorship and involvement in sport matter?

N: The girls program helped me get into sports and staying active. This matters because some girls may believe the stereotype that boys are more athletic than girls, but it’s wrong. The girls program helped me believe girls are so much more powerful than everyone believes them to be.

H: If you can see it, you can be it. Unfortunately, today’s media is predominantly male focused in the world of athletics and healthy living. We catered our program to be inclusive to all sport levels, experiences, and backgrounds to ensure any girl who wanted to participate had equal opportunity.

How has involvement in sports positively impacted your own life?  

N: I came to the girls’ program because my friends wanted me to join, around that time I wanted just to be a part of something. Before I came into the program I was quite shy, and wasn’t confident with who I was.

H: Sports taught me that success is in the eye of the beholder. It’s not about the records, points, or percentages, but rather the growth and experience one gains along their journey.

Hailey, what kind if changes did you begin to see in Nikki?

H: I’m so proud of Nikki. She has grown up to be a smart, confident, and healthy young woman. She went from being the last to speak, to one of the first. She sets an example for those around her and she speaks up when something isn’t right. Nikki constantly pushes herself and those around her to become better than they were yesterday – she’s a leader and an unsung hero in her community.

Nikki, what kind of changes did you begin to see in yourself?

N: After the program, I was more confident, I had more motivation to do things, and I was more open to meeting new people. I just graduated high school, and I have a full-time job through Todays Family at a summer camp. I also work part-time at McDonalds. Without the program, I don’t think I would be as active as I am, as confident, or as open and outgoing.

What does your relationship looks like today?

H: Our relationship is staying connected via social media and texting. I love when Nikki texts me and tells me about her day, or anything that’s going on in her life. As Nikki gets ready to start her next chapter, I’d like to remain a mentor. She’s one of those people I will always be available for.

For more than two decades, Always has built girls’ confidence by providing puberty education to organizations and schools across Canada. Through their #LikeAGirl campaign, Always has become a corporate brand leader in building awareness around girls’ confidence.

Always generously supports the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s Girls’ Fund, which, this year, will help more than 1,000 girls in 44 communities participate in programs that engage their bodies, minds, and spirits.

For additional tools and resources to help girls stay confident, download the confidence toolkit from Always.

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