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X Movement
Deena Douara Karim

X Movement aims to energize schools through Aussie sports, proactive engagement, and a supportive environment.

Some kids are sports people, and some are not. Or so we assume – a notion X Movement is looking to challenge.

When Kaela Bree and her X Movement team go into schools across the GTA, they engage entire school communities in dance, sport, yoga or Tai Chi, infused with encouraging affirmations and life skills. While focusing on K-12 students, they also involve teachers and parents whenever possible.

By creating a level playing field through unfamiliar Australian sports, proactively engaging inhibited students, and promoting a supportive environment (“good on ya mate”), they aim for 100 per cent participation and enjoyment – more often met than not, says Bree, who is originally from Melbourne.

Bree says North America’s hyper-competitive activity model contrasts with Australia’s sporty approach that emphasizes participation, which is a guiding principle for the company.

X Movement is a marriage of the physical – represented by co-founder Emile Studham, a former semi-professional Aussie football player, and the mental, represented by Bree, a former actress.

What she and Studham shared and inspired their business nine years ago (when it was first known as Aussie X) was a drive to positively impact youth and to “revolutionize education.”

“Energy,” perhaps, is the best way to describe what they aim to transmit and evoke.

“I want them to be as excited when they see the X as they are when they see McDonalds’ golden arches,” explains Bree.

For her, the business is truly personal and runs deeper than P.E.

Bree had tumultuous teen years in Australia, where she struggled to deal with the impacts of childhood abuse. “On the surface I was a straight-A student, I was great at all those small things, but underneath I was suffering in self hatred, suicidal thoughts, and suicidal tendencies. I felt very lost in darkness.”

Her drive to find her way out of those feelings – through therapy, life coaching and, most importantly, deep introspection – led her to the realization that she was happiest around children and wanted to help them develop the tools that she was just starting to learn – how to separate facts from stories we tell ourselves. It led her to X Movement and continues to inform the company’s values.

While the business started as a sports program, it has since expanded to include X Impact – their emerging non-profit focused on Northern Ontario and communities affected by youth suicide; X Performance, which brings energy into the workplace; and the upcoming X Life – web games designed for classrooms to promote movement and well-being.

Bree explains that X Life helps teachers meet their daily physical activity standards while also putting an emphasis on inquiry-based learning, reflection, and self-regulation – “a big part of what we do.”

Bree says X Group – which encompasses X Movement as well as the other initiatives – has been into over 2,000 schools already and they are seeking corporate sponsors to help them get X Life into every school in Ontario within the next six to 12 months.

And after that?

“The next step is to turn it into a multinational empire. I want to energize in some shape, way, or form every school in the world. This is my life mission and my life purpose.”

She’s aware of the skepticism and has a ready response: “I appreciate your caution but I’m doing it anyway.”

As she describes it, Toronto was an ideal place to launch the empire and, indeed, their lofty vision became a business with the help of Toronto’s School for Social Entrepreneurs and expanded with support from Dragon’s Den’s Jim Treliving.

“I absolutely love this city…. It’s such an incredibly diverse place for young entrepreneurs. It’s literally the reason I have so much confidence.”

Bree says it’s a supportive community where you can pick up the phone and find someone in the city who will help.

“It’s big enough but small enough at same time. You have access to resources but it’s small enough to feel like you’re part of a community … People are up to incredible things here. There are a lot of young forward-thinking people doing things differently – that’s the nature of Toronto.

“You can create anything if you want it bad enough.”

by Deena Douara Karim

Reposted with permission from Entreprise Toronto

 

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