With her distinctive red hair and outgoing attitude, Lucy is a memorable role model for Canadian children. It doesn’t matter that Lucy is a fictional character, in fact, it’s an asset – her confident grin greets readers from the inside of her book series, Lucy Tries Sports, as she encourages children to become more active through sport.
On June 20, Lucy and her creator, Western alumna Lisa Bowes, will be teaming up with Western’s women’s soccer team to promote the latest book in the instalment, Lucy Tries Soccer, at a book signing in Indigo North.
Bowes, who graduated from Western in 1988 with a B.A in physical education and is now a sports anchor/reporter with CTV Calgary, explained that creating the Lucy Tries Sports series brings her full-circle with her degree as she tackles the declining rate of physical activity in Canadian children.
“Her whole goal is to encourage kids … Canadians are just not as active as we should be,” Bowes said.
“We know if they [kids] are active right from the get-go they will continue to be active for the rest of their lives … so I’m trying really hard here to encourage the kids to read and to have Lucy to inspire and to encourage them to not only keep reading but get out there and try, try different types of sport.”
Getting kids more interested in physical activity is only one of the elements to the Lucy Tries Sports series, as having the protagonist of her series be a girl also encourages girls in particular to become interested.
“In keeping it a female like Lucy, to me I think that’s obviously an incredibly empowering thing for little girls to see her … and we can have princesses, absolutely. We can also though be in a speedsuit. And I love that aspect for little girls to see.”
It’s a message that’s resonated with some of the athletes on the women’s soccer team who are attending the event tomorrow, including third-year central midfielder Grace Grafham.
“Especially for female athletes, sports are kind of not exactly always on the radar,” Grafham said. “They’re kind of seen as more of a male-dominated activity, so I think normalizing it and reducing the stigma that people might have about female athletes and getting females in sports … exposing children at a young age to choose sports can kind of reduce that.”
Her teammate, third-year King's criminology student and defender on the women's soccer team Jess Vieira also spoke highly of the message Bowes is conveying through her series.
"I decided to participate in this event because I strongly support the movement of exposing young children to sports early on in life," Vieira said in an email. "Not only do these books allow children to be more active in reading, but they also allow the young girls to find a role model in Lucy to look up to when exploring sports in a positive and fun way."
Despite initially receiving nine rejections from various publishing houses before teaming up with Orca Book Publishers, Bowes said her series has been received well by children and teachers alike for its impactful message.
“I also love the fact that little boys – and remember that kids at this age do not care about gender – it doesn’t’ matter to them whether it’s a boy or a girl, it’s a person, it’s a sporty kid that’s doing something,” Bowes said. “And for me to have little boys read about a story that actually the main character is a girl, I think there’s also great power in that. It’s very rare that you see a female in the sports realm in a book, I think that’s really cool and timely.
Lisa Bowes will be signing copies of her books at Indigo North on July 21 and can be found online on Orca Books Publishing's website.