The Karina LeBlanc Foundation focuses its resources on adolescent girls from all socio-economic backgrounds to achieve their dreams and to produce future leaders.
Inspiring Future Leaders
THE KARINA LEBLANC FOUNDATION
In her mid teens, Karina made a courageous decision that she wanted to be an Olympian and see her flag rise on the podium for Canada. She wanted to take soccer to the next level. With the support and encouragement from her parents, she set out into the Maple Ridge community to ask for donations and sponsors. She was very shy and nervous, but soon learned the power behind simply being true to herself and asking for support towards her big dream. A generous $500 donation from Marv Jones gave Karina the start she needed to achieve her dreams.
Karina’s soccer career began in Maple Ridge with the support of the local population. As a way to show her gratitude and appreciation, she decided to create the Karina LeBlanc Foundation so she can give back to the community that gave her so much, but in her own unique way. Similar to Karina’s experience, the foundation will offer equal opportunities for all adolescent girls. Knowledge is power. With the belief that if you empower a woman, you can empower a community, we are focused on breaking down barriers to access education and skills for adolescent girls to gain confidence and knowledge. Our goal is to allow these girls to dream big and work towards achieving their goals.
Being a teenager and getting used to all the challenges that high school and life bring can be overwhelming and often priorities shift. It’s an incredibly impressionable age and we feel that girls can get even more out of soccer at that time, more than they ever thought. Sport keeps them out of trouble and doing things that are healthy and good for their overall well-being.
THE MENTORING PROGRAM
Karina participated on the 2011 national soccer team, which placed dead last and less than a year later the same team won the Bronze Medal at the 2012 Olympics. What made the difference from one year to the next was leadership. John Herdman, the head coach played a role in this success. He empowered the entire team; the players connected to one another and he connected the team to something greater than themselves. This allowed the team to hold each other accountable for all of their actions and in turn, this accountability led to the success of the team.
The mentoring program is designed around three pillars that mirror three key lessons Karina has learned, discovered, and believes in.
- Karina aims to teach the girls that leadership does not mean dictatorship; rather it means learning to find out one another’s strengths and working together in harmony towards a greater purpose. Karina believes that sport is one of the greatest teachers in life. She will incorporate how sport has taught her some of the most important leadership skills and draw on how other activities can as well. Sport teaches you that failure is ok. You fail but as quickly as you fall, you have to pick yourself back up because the next thing will happen whether or not you are prepared for it. Sports also teaches so much about yourself and your ability to work with a team, communicating, leadership, the importance of good work ethic, goal setting, and the ability to control what you can control. There are so many things that are important in life but life itself won’t teach you all at once, yet in one game you can learn so much.
- Self-Discovery. What makes YOU excited for the day? What do you look forward to accomplishing today? What are you going to do that will make you the best version of YOU today? These are the questions Karina asks herself daily. This pillar is about self-reflection and getting to know who you are. These days, girls are influenced by their peers, social media and pop culture, often to the point where some of them lose sight on who they truly are. Through different activities in this pillar, Karina aims to help the girls realize that they are perfect just the way they are, to believe in themselves, and to dream BIG!
- Daring to Dream Big. Everyone has dreams and aspirations, but how do you get there? What are the necessary steps and what do you do when you face a roadblock or challenge? Karina knows all too well the importance of daring to dream big. After being cut from her first provincial team she tried out for, that embarrassment and defeat ended up being the best things that ever happened to her. She decided that what one person thought of her would not be what the rest of the world would see her as being. For the next year, she dedicated 15 minutes extra every singe day towards being better and getting closer to her dream. She surrounded herself with people that believed in her. By the time of the tryout the next year, she was confident in herself and her skill because she had put in the extra work.
GRANTS & BURSARY
Inspired by the generous $500 donation that Marv Jones gave Karina when she was younger to achieve her dreams, we are looking to give back to the girls in this community in collaboration with generous donations and grants received. The money received will be put into bursaries and grants that allow the girls to go to summer camps to enhance their skills in a sport or other activity. The foundation will create mentorship programs with other mentors in the community.
During the 2015 FIFA World Cup that was hosted in various cities across Canada, the Karina LeBlanc Foundation made contact with various organizations including Ottawa Family Services, Grand Frere est Soeur en Montreal, and Alberta Child Services to offer tickets to attend the games. The feedback we received from those who attended was surprise and pure excitement.