The girls took a break on February 10 to relax and enjoy a mini spa and some new manicures before getting their hearts pumping again with a Zumba class taught by Jennifer MacDonnell.

PORT HAWKESBURY: Last weekend the Town of Port Hawkesbury hosted the first in a series of events designed to get young girls moving while celebrating themselves and each other.

Approximately 31 girls ranging in age from 11 to 14 took part in Saturday’s “Hearts on Fire Girls’ Summit” at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre. The town received funding for the wellness program through the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage.

“It’s a program designed for girls at the end of elementary and junior high school age to get them to be active,” said Corene Gillis, physical activity coordinator for the Town of Port Hawkesbury.

Photos by Melanie Holder
Jennifer MacDonnell’s Zumba class got the girls dancing to their favourite songs.

Gillis developed the summit in partnership with Jennifer MacDonnell, who facilitated the event. The morning included Zumba and yoga classes, as well as activities to promote positive mental health and community building. Girls took part in a mini spa, guided meditation practice and positive affirmation diaries, which MacDonnell said was a chance for girls to move past negative thinking and focus on their most valued qualities.

MacDonnell said the day provided girls with a much-needed break from the distractions of their daily lives and allowed them to focus on wellness.

“For me, there’s a gap as far as educating our young women about not only mental health, but physical health as well, and the connection between them both,” said MacDonnell.

She added that the summit also helped the girls build new friendships.

“Watching these young women from different communities bond through fitness, kindness and sharing was a blessing,” said MacDonnell. “After the summit, I went to a local establishment for lunch and about 10 of the girls were there. They were waving and smiling at one another. This is how community is built. It was a privilege to be a part of.”

Saturday’s “Hearts on Fire” summit gave girls a chance to clear their minds with some guided meditation and positive self-affirmations.

Anyone who missed last weekend’s summit may still have time to register for the town’s upcoming four-week “Feel the Love” program for girls.

“It’s the same kind of idea, just bringing the youth together to kind of unplug them from the craziness of their lives,” said MacDonnell.

The “Feel the Love” workshops will meet Wednesday evenings at the Civic Centre starting February 21. Like Saturday’s summit, they will include a strong physical activity component.

“We’ll also do a couple of other activities, like some karaoke and a dance party where they can have some fun,” she said.

MacDonnell says space for the workshops is limited and urges anyone who may be interested to contact 902-625-7898 or e-mail:

Saturday’s “Hearts on Fire” Girls’ Summit drew over 30 young girls from the Strait area. Some of the group is seen here with facilitator Jennifer MacDonnell and yoga facilitator Tracey MacDonnell.