Kicking their confidence into full gear, that’s the goal of a program in northern Arizona.
Gear Girls empowers young women through mountain biking, trail work, and snow sports.
Julie Polovitch, with Arizona Trail Association, said the girls-only setting helps young women step into roles they may not get the chance to hold in a male-dominated arena.
“I think it's really important for girls to have opportunities to be, to be able to take on every role within a group. So girls get to be the learners, peer mentors, leaders, and the decision makers. They don't have boys stepping in and taking those roles, they get to do all of it,” said Polovitch.
The goal is to build confidence, outdoor competence, community, and character in girls grades 4-8. Older girls can also be peer mentors to gain leadership skills.
Polovitch said she didn’t have any outdoors experience until she took part in a program as a teen. "It just wasn't part of what my family did, or my what my community did, just wasn't like in my reality," she said.
To make the experience available for everyone, Gear Girls gets rid of barriers, providing all gear, transportation, and snacks at no cost to the participants. Programs run every season.
Visit https://aztrail.org/youth/gear-girls for more information, to sign up, or to donate to the program.