By TORA MATYS
Theresa Stanley is leading an army of strong, confident woman and girls around Edmonton. Head coach at Phoenix Taekwon-Do and sixth degree black belt, she competes and trains athletes for competition around the world. Recently she has started the Girls on Fire movement, a series of interactive workshops focusing on giving young girls confidence and inspiration.
“I’ve always known that there was a need for something for girls to help with their confidence. And I know there’s things out there like joining Girl Guides and other things but that’s not necessarily for every girl. I know there’s a lot of girls out there that want to do self-defence but aren’t necessarily ready to sign up for a full Taekwon-Do class.
So I said, well is there a way I can bring self-defense and martial arts and amalgamate it something that is really cool and fun, but also really light hearted where we can have the discussion about bullying and depression, or things that are weighing on them like mental illness,” said Stanley.
Over the past year she has been working with other local woman in putting together different workshops for girls ages 8 to 14. Stanley has brought in make-up artists, photographers, and painters to teach the girls and inspire confidence in them. They discuss topics that can sometimes be overlooked such as cyberbullying and give girls the tools to either prevent or overcome it.
Recently, the Girls on Fire movement held their first Confidence Conference where they partnered with local businesses, including CTV, and over 120 girls attended.
They spent the day doing activities to build their “Confidence Tool Kit” as Stanley would call it, covering topics like how to eat to make your mind and body feel good and learning self-defence. At the end of the day they all participated in a board break, where they wrote the insecurities on the board and literally stomped them. With the huge success of the conference, Stanley and her team already have the next one in the works, and plans to expand.
“The ultimate end game, I would love to see this brand reach out in Calgary, I’m already started planting seeds, and into Vancouver. Ultimately a program that can be taught by other martial arts women around the world no matter what martial art they are teaching. They are all teaching self-defence to some length, but to take the concept of fun and confidence and martial arts and create a community of girls,” says Stanley.
Even though the Girls on Fire movement is geared towards younger girls, Stanley teaches and trains adults at any of her Phoenix Taekwon-Do locations across Edmonton area. Anyone ages 4 and up can train and learn the confidence and skills martial arts has to offer.