As a fitting event for the Women in Sport week, Tuesday the 9th saw the final edition of Teen Connect, the third online webinar as part of the Teen Connect Series. This was the final night of the first part of this programme. Teen connect aims to bring together a community of young women (aged between 12-17) in paddlesports to create a supportive environment to allow them to grow within the sport and share their experiences. In the future, there will be further online events and on the water development days in a number of disciplines across the country.

The first part of this programme aimed to build connections between the girls attending and increase their confidence as well as their knowledge of the whole of paddlesports. Each evening began with some exercises to improve their paddling. These included a warm up routine, yoga for stretching and strength building as well as a workshop on mobility and muscle development. This was followed by a presentation from some of the girls themselves on their discipline and personal experiences. This was a really important element as the programme aims to be multi-disciplinary and the hope is to expand the paddlers knowledge and enthusiasm for elements of the sport they may not otherwise have a chance to experience. These presentations included Slalom, Marathon, Sprint, Polo and Wildwater racing. The aim will be to discuss the other disciplines at future sessions. The sessions then broke out into smaller groups and everyone had the opportunity to discuss their own experiences in paddlesports. Each week there were different themes, the first week was ‘connecting’ and everyone had the opportunity to introduce themselves. The second week focused on confidence building and ways to overcome fear and anxiety on the water. The theme for the final zoom was in line with International Womenโ€™s Day and was ‘Choose to
Challenge’. Each participant chose a personal challenge that they were going to work on and a Challenge of trying to get more people involved in paddling or sharing a skill. Through the next phase of Teen Connect the aim is to provide opportunities for the girls to work towards their goals and develop new goals. This programme will create a network of support they can turn to if they
need any help in any areas of their paddling.

The events were really enjoyable, and brilliantly attended with each of the webinars having over 50 girls attending, with the girls all learning some new skills as well as having the opportunity to connect with one another. By building these connections the girls will be encouraged to attend more events and support each other in their paddling endeavours. From here the programme will be building on
this and hopefully having some face to face elements to the programme soon as well as online monthly meetings.

Feedback from the events was great –

I enjoyed it a lot especially learning about other disciplines and it was nice to see how many girls are actually involved in
paddling” – Laura Hand

It was very enjoyable and a great way to learn new disciplines and meet new people!” Aoife Geary

I loved hearing what other people have experienced through kayaking and learning about injury prevention” – Meabh Guery

Written by – Cleo Pitcher Farrell and Anais O’Dononvan