WYL: Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: My name is Ashley Wiles, I'm from Vancouver, BC. I'm the founder of Sole Girls, SoleAwesome and I'm an athlete, speaker, coach and mental health advocate!
WYL: What is Sole Girls?
A: Sole Girls a move-ment and community for girls ages 8-12 raising awareness for girls' mental health and fun physical activity. Our core program is a 9 week program that teaches girls about body image, nutrition, anxiety, values and being awesome. We also run camps, workshops, leadership training for young women ages 14-30, 5km events (soleawesome.ca) and Sole Mamas!
WYL: What was your inspiration for starting Sole Girls?
A: I am inspired and learning every single day by the people around me. I spent too much time dealing with anxiety and not understanding that what I was going through was ok. I felt uncomfortable and developed disordered thinking around eating, sleeping and other things too. When I saw Amanda Todd's video, I realized that something had to change, and that more people, especially girls needed mentors, community and fun physical activity in their lives.
Photo: Chris Thorn Photography
WYL: Have you ever had an "aha" moment regarding your mental health?
A: Amanda Todd spurred my "aha" moment and the talk about anxiety. I realized we all have mental health, regardless of whether you identify with the word illness or not. You have a mind= you have mental health and it still needs to be taken care of.
WYL: Any words of encouragement for those facing struggles?
A: You are not alone. No matter how much you isolate yourself and how much shame you feel - it's ok, you are human, and you have emotions... but for sure there is someone who feels similar or has been through something like it. Find 1 person you trust and you feel like you can share a piece of what you are going through with them. Because that might be the scariest piece, but when it happens, it feels like freedom.