Running Saved My Life and It Might Save Yours Too | Ashley Wiles | TEDxKids@BC

Running Saved My Life and It Might Save Yours Too | Ashley Wiles | [email protected]


Translator: Ellen Maloney
Reviewer: Denise RQ I do not like rules. Actually, I have never liked rules. I would tell everybody,
by the time I was five years old, that “I am the boss of me”. Teachers did not like that very much.
They called me, “A bad kid.” I prefer, “Strong and opinionated”. My school had a Kilometer Club
when I was six years old, and I joined. I made a goal to run
as many kilometers as I possibly could. I had these people in my family
who were runners, and I was like, “They have no rules,
they can just go anywhere.” I was like, “That’s pretty cool.
I need to be a part of this.” So I set this goal, and in my first year of Kilometer Club,
I ran 200 kilometers. This is the time before maps and GPSs
so they actually had to be there with me. Pretty cool. I decided that I loved to run. There was no rules; I could
go as far, as fast as I wanted. It was awesome. Basically, I am a superhero. It felt amazing. Then things started to slowly change. First, my body changed, and I would
look in the mirror and say, “Why did I have to have those legs?” I would look in the mirror,
and I would see my freckles, and I would say, “Why did I have
to have spots all over my face?” Then my school changed,
and my friends changed, and it seemed like my world
kind of got turned upside down. I was really worried about how to fit in. “Who am I?” The thing was that PE and running
became really uncool. Actually, it became the subject that was most skipped
by girls in high school. I thought, “How interesting. Here I am trying to fit in and be myself,
and the thing I love most is uncool.” It turns out that I am not alone. Between the ages of 12 and 19
64% of girls are considered inactive. That is a pretty big number. I felt scared, and unsure, and not really understanding
what to do about this. It turns out that at the same time,
our confidence is going down. Our IQ scores are dropping, we are less assertive,
we are less confident, and that is part of being a girl. Lucky for me, I kept on running. My parents encouraged me
instead of sending me to my room, they would say, “Go for a run,
Ashley. You will feel better.” And I did. And it was amazing. I have this thing I call
“The scribble in my head.” It is colourful, it is bright,
and it never stops talking. Sometimes that scribble gets quite dark. A couple of years ago, I started experiencing this anxiety
in a deeper, darker kind of way. The kind of way where you do not want
to sleep, and you do not want to eat. Or you want to sleep until all
your problems are gone, hopefully, or not wake up until they are. Or eat until there is no food
left in the house, and hope that every bite takes
a little bit away from that problem. I felt trapped, and scared, and I did not
really understand what was going on, and why a bubbly awesome person
like me could feel this way. A video came across
my social media, and it was a girl, she was telling her story. The story gets a little bit
more depressing as she goes on. She does not talk, she is just
showing these cue cards. She talks about being bullied,
and feeling alone and being depressed, and being anxious. I felt myself reflected in that story. I knew exactly how she felt. This is the story of Amanda Todd. She was local, and sometimes when we are
dealing with anxiety and depression, you isolate yourself
mentally and physically, and she brought it back home for me. I thought, “How could this
15-year old girl commit suicide?” That is not fair, and it is not cool. So I created a program. I used all the skills because I knew
that when I felt best, when I got of that dark anxiety
and got out of the scribble in my head, was when I was running. It was when I was with my community and they would show up for me,
and I would show up for them. This program is about
connecting girls with girls. We connect high school
and university students who have been through
the body image, and the bullying, and all that stuff we go through, and we connect them
with teen girls, ages eight to twelve, where we are at our most vulnerable
stage in deciding who we want to be. This program is a nine-week program where girls come and they get
to build their confidence, they get to connect, because we know
that girls who have mentors are 2.5 times more likely to feel confident and feel like
they can be successful. I think that is pretty awesome. They train to run
a five kilometer fun run. I use “running” very lightly because “running”can be
hopping, skipping, jumping. It can be anything
that you think feels good. That is what we call our “happy pace”. We teach girls to find their “happy pace”. Anxiety is not just about me,
and it is not just about Amanda. It is about everybody; it is something that we all deal
with on one scale or another. Imagine feeling anxiety all the time. You might get it
if you are preparing for a test, or you might get it if you are preparing
for an event of thousands of people. But imagine having it and not having
the tools or language to talk about it. Or the tools or language to know
what is actually happening. Running is not even about running. For me, running
is about our mental health. Mental health is something
that we all have. It is not bad, it is not dangerous. Basically, if you are human, and you have
a mind, then you have mental health. It is something you need to take care of,
like brushing your teeth. Running is the most easily accessible,
under-utilised tool we have to build positive mental health. When I tell adults that I am a runner,
I get one of two responses. One, “I love to run! Perfect!
Let’s go! When can we train?” The second one,
“Oh my gosh, I hate running.” “I have an injury, I do not have
the right body type.” “I do not have anybody to go with.” The list goes on. I think it is about
changing our perspective; about taking a different look
at what running really is. For me, it builds so much stuff,
but three things in particular. Confidence; when you run,
you feel good about yourself. You can build your confidence,
and you can take that outwards, and you can build a community. A community of people
who are going to support you because they understand who you are. And concentration. We can get back down to our IQ scores
and concentrate and focus on what is really important,
and get out of the scribble in our head and actually understand
what we want to do. I want to share a really
quick story with you about a girl who joined the program Her name is Nicole. Nicole joined the program,
not because she liked to run. Actually, her mom told me
that Nicole hated PE. Nicole had been bullied
in grade three, and in grade four, she was dealing with mean
girls and frenemies. If you who do not know,
frenemies and mean girls are your friends sometimes,
and not your friends other times. Nicole joined the program
because her friends joined. Which is often why we do a lot of things. But Nicole made a separate commitment. She showed up every week, and she worked,
and she learned, and she ran. What I love about Nicole is
that by the end of the eight weeks, Nicole had not only built
enough confidence to run in a five kilometer fun run, but she was now going back to PE
and competing against the boys. I think that is pretty awesome. Nicole is an inspiration now. She has joined her leadership
group at school, and she chooses her friends
based on who she is. She has friends from all over
and different groups now because she knows who she is. Any action or movement
starts with one step. For me, that step starts
in my running shoes. I choose to get up
everyday and go for a run. Sometimes it is a dance party,
sometimes it is a run. Sometimes it is more of a hop,
or skip, or jump, but I go. Because I know that I will be less grumpy, kinder, calmer, and more able to commit
to other people, when I run. I hope that maybe I can
inspire one girl to be active, because she might inspire one more,
and she might inspire one more. The current 11% of girls
that are currently active right now, considered to do enough
physical activity to benefit their health that 11% is going to change, because of that one girl. That girl can be who she is,and she can
build her confidence, and she feels good. I was at an event last month,
and I asked 300 people, mostly adults, “Who was active when you were
ten or twelve years old?” All these hands shot up,
and I was like, “Great!” Then I asked them, “Who
still does those activities now?” All these hands came down. If girls are not active
by the time they are ten years old, you only have a 10% chance
of being active when you are 25. That is a pretty low number. Sometimes, I am all dressed up
in running clothes, and I am ready to go, and I am sitting in my car, at home,
and I am like, “I am too busy, I have lots of things to do,
I do not have time!” “I need to go,” and I just sit there. If I cannot make myself go,
I call my best friend. I tell her what is going on,
I might feel a little bit anxious. She says, every time without fail, “Ashley, you need to go
take that first step. You take those first steps,
and you go for five minutes. You do not have to go far,
you do not have to go fast but you need to go for five minutes.” I say, “OK.” She says, “You go for that five minutes,
and it might turn into ten, and it might turn into 20,
It might turn into an hour, it really does not matter
because there are no rules. But guaranteed, those first few steps
are going to make you feel better.” And those first few steps?
They might actually change your life. Thank you. (Applause)

15 thoughts on “Running Saved My Life and It Might Save Yours Too | Ashley Wiles | [email protected]

  1. Going to the gym saved my life. I got over depression, anxiety, panic attacks and extreme agoraphobia that had me locked in my house for 2 years. i was lucky to get out of this..

  2. Does anyone actually go to listen to these, or are her jokes really that bad? Nobody laughs once in this. They used to get a fair bit of audience interaction back in the day, but in this video I just heard maybe two people talking and her voice shaking because she's nervous because nobody seems to care about what she's saying.

  3. This was great ! .I really loved watching this lady talk.

    I wish I could take a seat n enjoy a Ted x event in my city.or this even when it happened.

  4. As a runner myself (I love being able to say that about myself) I understand that feeling. Running isn't even about running for me. It's about time with my mind and my body, time in the forest and especially time without my mind. I do believe everyone should have this balance, it doesn't have to be running. It could be swimming, hiking, playing sports, biking. It just needs to get your heart pumping and your brain napping.

  5. oohh 5 kilometer run is fun run ??? i cant even jog for about 500 meters … and the girl is saying that in her first year of kilometer club she ran about 200 kilometer??? do some body can do that much ???

  6. i know exercising can do alot good for you , physically mentally spiritually emotionally , because while you do exercises it engages your body and mind… no matter what exercise you do , either it is running jogging , strength training or yoga …

  7. last words are really great ,,, atleast go for first step and do it atleast for 5 minutes , because five minutes can help you get better and improve for more

  8. Ridiculous… Men commit suicide at 5x the rate women do… whats the answer… another femalecentric program. Smh Can't have those bog scary boys running too, nope only for girls.
    No wonder their becoming "weak"… socially women have decised to safe space themselves from reality.

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