Letter From Our Founder

While working at a foundation for homeless youth in 2017, I saw a call-to-action put out by a local Toronto shelter to provide fitness and wellness service. As someone who’s own physical and mental health was greatly impacted by fitness, I understood the impact of movement on physical and mental well-being, and was inspired to reach out and offer to help.

I didn’t want to depend on another organization to start or a fund to appear. I became a certified group fitness instructor. A week later, I was at Horizons for Youth, teaching group fitness classes. I committed to teaching weekly for a year.

Bootcamps for Change was inspired by this experience in 2018, by the connections formed with the youth I met in the shelter, and by the way something as basic as daily movement can affect positive change. 

The vision of our organization is to improve the lives of those we serve, by creating weekly in-shelter fitness programming and educational workshops for all youth experiencing homelessness. As our program has grown, we have pushed ourselves to increase our impact. So we federally incorporated the #SweatierForTheBetter not-for-profit and program, an employment program to certify homeless youth as personal trainers or group fitness instructors, creating a way for our participants to not only pay the gift of movement forward, but to find employment within the fitness community – dismantling harmful stereotypes that perpetuate self-stigmatization in the population we serve.

Since I began working with youth experiencing homelessness more than a decade ago, I have been driven by the goal of making a lasting impact on their lives, by providing a program and a skill set that sets them on a better course. I, and the Bootcamps for Change team, are relentlessly dedicated to serving that mission.

We hope you’ll join us.

– Katie Heggtveit