Ottawa’s Larissa Brown is a mover and a shaker who’s definitely one of the city’s trailblazing youth. As a track star, this 19-year-old has accomplished incredible feats despite considerable challenges.
A visually impaired elite athlete, she lost her vision in Grade 7. Good thing her sister convinced her to join track. Larissa currently holds five – 5! – Canadian records and she represented Canada at the World Juniors in Switzerland this past August.
“At a very challenging time, track gave me hope,” she explains, adding, “I was honored to represent Canada at the World Juniors.”
Now, Larissa is a winner of the Champions Fund, an initiative by Canada’s dairy farmers that aims to break down financial barriers for amateur female athletes as they work at achieving their goals in sport. In its second year, the fund is distributing 30 grants of $5,000 each to help young female athletes pursue their sports dreams, and Larissa is one of the recipients.
This financial support will help her pay for a personal trainer and a dietician; it will also help cover fees to attend training camps. Every bit of financial support helps.
In her words, “I am a student and have three other siblings. I am responsible for paying for my tuition and other costs. Since I train five times a week it is difficult to find part time employment. I rely on my parents for assistance. I also pay for my equipment and club fees.”
It all adds up.
And, as her new funders note, although sport is an integral part of overall health, “only 59 per cent of girls aged 3-17 and 16 per cent of adult women in Canada participate in sport. The Champions Fund, and the overarching initiative, Fuelling Women Champions, aims to inspire girls and women, regardless of age or ability, in local communities across Canada to realize the universal benefits of sport.”
Larissa says money isn’t the only issue that limits female participation in high-level competitive sport. “I would like to see more equality in sports. For example, the number of female para-athletes attending the Pan Am games in Toronto was less than the number of male athletes. Despite female athletes having qualifying times, they still were not selected. There is a need for equal treatment,” she points out. Congratulations, Larissa!