The morning started off with an acrobatic act from the Vancouver Circus School. After the FEAT introduction song, Dare Sofia stepped on to the stage to perform an acrobatic demonstration on the hoop.
When the Aerial Hoop was taken off-stage, it was time for Tiffany Mellius to greet the stage and the audience by introducing Hunter Sones, the MC for the day (and former FEAT Kids speaker)
The first half of the show would feature: Jesse Costucci, Sofia Ngieng, Reid Watts, and Linnea Uunila.
Following intermission, the show would end with: Julia Massullo, Jordan Romero, Megan Yim, Kye Jenson and Nicole Miller.
Things weren’t as they should’ve been. Jesse needed a change. She recognized that the things she feared and dreaded the most were what would save her. She enlisted in an alternative school that required her to be active daily, and instead of running and fading away, Jesse began to put passion into every event eventually moving from 1k to her first half-marathon. The achievement was shadowed by the loss of her mother and friend. She promised herself then that she would rise above and continue the journey to being a good and healthy person. She wanted to be a mentor and the daughter that her mother knew. She shut down every opportunity to quit and understood that running would take her far. She became a youth ambassador for the Vancouver Marathon Society and with all her learnings from Streetfront, Jesse changed schools to Take a Hike where she found solace and strength in the outdoors. The opportunity of a lifetime (hiking up Mount Kilimanjaro) knocked at Jesse’s door and along with other youths they achieved the summit. They faced the long hike up and every challenge that came their way together. Jesse set her mom’s ashes free at the top of the mountain and was thankful for where her strength and resilience had led her. Pain to power, challenges to opportunities, Jesse has what it takes to go far. Her runners and marathons led her down some wonderful journeys, but her passion and dedication will continue to take her to great places.
A family trip to Malaysia became more than a family vacation for Sofia. It became a journey of self-discovery and understanding where she came from and the depth of her family’s roots. Her grandfather had worked hard his entire life to support his family and rose above adversity to create opportunities for the next generation. Sofia had heard of these stories, but she would soon find herself where it all had started. In Beijing and Shanghai she was exposed to a mosaic of cultures, scenery, and history but in Sibu, Malaysia she connected with her family’s past. She was touched by the sacrifices her grandfather had gone through to build a new life and the dedication that it required. Sofia began to reflect on her own life and started to recognize who she wanted to be. She better understood her past and wanted to create a better Sofia for tomorrow. She gave up trying to be someone else and started embracing who she was. It was easier to be happy and to see the positives when you could be yourself. Just like her grandfather, traveling and getting lost in a journey gave Sofia opportunity.
Reid Watts – Luge
A quick definition of luge: extreme tobogganing where you go feet first on a sled traveling at 140km/h for about a mile. Reid has gone feet first into luging and has raced in the World Championships and recently earned a bronze medal at the Youth Olympic Games. In luge, Reid isn’t only trying to beat the clock and make the fastest time, but is also competing against some of his closest friends and competitors.
At the Youth Olympics, Reid was in 5th place and 800 of a second off a potential podium time. After a strong second run, he claimed the bronze medal 200 of a second to his Austrian friend. Instead of being frustrated at not making the podium, Reid’s friend was proud of him and congratulated him on the great luge runs. This act showed Reid the importance of friendship during competition and what real sportsmanship is like. Instead of being frustrated at not winning or being faster than the others, it was more important to stand by friends and fellow competitors and be happy for them and to cheer them along the way. While it’s hard to do a sport without having 1st place in mind, what matters most is to play fair and to be a good athlete from start to finish.
Waking up to a one-way ticket to Alcatraz on a dark morning would make anyone nervous. For Linnea, the only way off the island was through a triathlon that started with a chilly swim in the San Francisco Bay. As she’s getting ready to start, Linnea looks around and realizes that her challenges have just become greater. She’s a 14 year-old girl surrounded by older bigger athletes who, once the gun is shot, will kick and splash and do whatever to get to the front. Linnea now has to swim harder than anyone else or risk being pulled under. She completes the race finishing as the fastest girl under 14. How did she get there? SISU (Finnish for Strength)! But it took time and facing fears for Linnea to get SISU. She would worry about what lurked under water and would shy away from a swim if it wasn’t at her comfort level. Not wanting to give up on her passion, she began to develop techniques during her training that would help keep her mind focused on the swim and control any fears that would arise. As a swimmer in open water and with so many different factors around, it’s important to keep control over every stroke and kick. Linnea is well on her way to mastering SISU!
In 2015 Julia represented Canada for World Youth and Adult Climbing Championships. She then headed to Norway for another World Cup where she competed as the youngest climber finishing 33rd out of 60 competitors. Proud of her accomplishment, she headed to Italy for the World Youth Climbing Championship with a top 15 finish in mind. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as Julia had planned. Walking up to her first climb in the first round, she just couldn’t figure out the route. She could barely get her feet off the ground and was becoming more and more frustrated at the climb she couldn’t do. At the end of the round, Julia was ready to quit. The passion was gone and she only felt disappointment and frustration towards her beloved sport. Before leaving Italy, a teammate asked Julia if she would come climb outdoors and take pictures. Despite feeling unmotivated, Julia agreed and channeled all her frustration on the routes. It must’ve worked because she sent her hardest project to date. Her confidence was slowly growing and she realized that quitting climbing was not the answer. She decided to quit competing and secluded herself from the climbing community. One day, her mother secretly signed her up for a competition and Julia decided to go without any expectations. She finished fifth. She tried another competition and was 3rd. She was moving back up! With the help and support of her coach, friends, and family, Julia realized that the best part of climbing was being in the sport. Going in with expectations and putting pressure on herself to perform were not making her happy or giving her the results she wanted. Her outlook on climbing has changed and she’s ready to to climb hard and strong again!
At the age of 9, Jordan Romero wanted to conquer the 7 summits. Conquer he did, getting to the top of Kilimanjaro (his first), Denali, Everest (13 years old – record for the youngest to summit), and Mount Vinson (15 years). But there’s more to Jordan than just the drive to get to the top. Jordan wanted to understand the environmental changes that were happening around him. In 2013, he traveled to Malawi, Africa to help build a school. He started to see how the locals lived their lives and the everyday challenges they faced. Determined to make a difference, Jordan went back to Africa with an environmentalist lens and observed how the people treated their land and utilized their natural resources. He began to understand that not everything is as it seems. Behind corruption and a lack of awareness, beauty and opportunity was at every corner. Jordan decided to dedicate himself to helping growing nations preserve their land and resources as they advance and build. He’s just one person and it’s just one planet, so he’s calling on everyone to help out and make a positive impact on their surroundings and the people they see.
It’s not easy being on a thin blade in a cold room with judges marking your every move. Jumping, spinning, and gliding on ice is difficult and it only gets tougher when you’re trying to make it look smooth and effortless. Megan’s figure skating career has had many successes but those have come with challenges. There’s no time for rest or vacations because the time off the ice is hard to get back. Without much rest, Megan has to always stay focused and be ready for the long training days. She also has to push herself physically to do the next big jump or routine that will make her stand apart from everyone else. When training for Nationals, her blade slipped causing Megan to fall. The pain did not go away and she had to go through different treatments to just attend Nationals. After competing, she was diagnosed with 2 fractures in her right leg. She was shocked at how hard she had pushed herself despite her injury and felt stronger than ever. Megan was truly giving figure skating everything she had. Her dedication to the sport has never stopped and despite going to school full-time, having to leave friends behind for training and competition, and bringing homework with her wherever she goes, Megan could never give up her figure skating passion! She aims to go to National, Worlds, and the Olympics and plans to act as a mentor and inspiration to others both on and off the ice.
Kye Jensen – Sailing Fast
“Imagine yourself floating on a piece of plywood in the middle of the ocean.” Now, imagine this piece of plywood is speeding ahead breaking waves as they come and it’s just you and the skipper. Kye Jensen has been there. For the last 9 years, Kye has been learning the way of navigating a 29er sailboat. When a 29er catches the wind in its sails, it moves forward. Fast. It’s all hands on deck and quick maneuvers to keep the speed going and to prevent any mayhem from happening. The last thing you want on the Pacific Ocean is to have your boat’s bow (front) hit a wave or object and flip forward, catapulting everyone in the boat to the freezing water. This is also not the type of boat that can cruise without wind (no motors), so when you’re going fast and the wind suddenly stops, prepare yourself to be submerged in the water. Sailing a 29er requires focus, a love for speed (and the odd dip in the cold water), and technical knowledge. On a hot summer’s day or in freezing temperatures, Kye is out on the water dedicating himself to the sport and gaining more technical knowledge with every wave that hits.
Nicole is an athletic and adventurous soul. She will try anything and won’t let fear stand in its way. But being strong minded and willing to give everything a chance wasn’t always that way. In grade 4 Nicole became stressed with the change in curriculum. She now had to face bigger projects and assignments, no more split classes, little support, and higher expectations. Nicole was used to excelling and found herself alone when she would ask help from her teachers only to get the response “You should know this.” When she got her report card, she was proud of how she had done, but found a “C” in her grades under Physical Education. She was confused at how someone who loved to kayak, run, swim, and do anything active would have such a low grade. Feeling upset, Nicole started a war on herself. She would put herself down, mock her looks, and tease her personality. Unfortunately with time, she began to believe the negative things she was saying to herself. After feeling miserable all summer and denying herself of the things she liked, she had a good talk with her mother and decided to become a member of Sole Girls where she learned to be active while learning about the challenges that many young girls face such as bullying, social media message, and confidence. She was feeling celebrated for being herself and was even able to stand up to a bully. She was starting to believe in herself and was becoming more and more happy with who she saw in the mirror. She continued to challenge herself with new sports and activities and learned how being kind to yourself and others can make the biggest impact and difference.