Karen Cockburn: New mom & Olympic medalist supports girls!
- Because I am a Girl Blog by Kate Jongbloed
After 4 Olympics and 3 medals, trampoline gymnast Karen Cockburn has a new role to play: mom!
We caught up with her to see what inspired her to get involved with Plan’s Because I am a Girlinitiative, and what’s next for her as an athlete and new mom.
How did you get involved with Day of the Girl?
I was first introduced to the Because I am a Girlinitiative by fellow Olympian Jennifer Heil. Jenn invited me to a fundraising event to celebrate the Day of the Girl. I was inspired by her fundraising challenge to raise $1,000,000 for Plan Canada. That is where I learned more about Plan Canada and Because I am a Girl. I really wanted to lend my support in any way I could and I looked forward to celebrating the Day of the Girl for years to come. This year was special as I got to celebrate the Day of the Girl with my new baby girl who was only two weeks old at the time. Here you can see us raise our hands for girls’ education!
Why do you think the girl issue is important?
I believe girls’ education is very important. Education brings empowerment. Physical education is part of the equation of learning to live a healthy lifestyle in mind, body, and spirit. Through school and sport, important values are learned and girls can gain the self-confidence they need to strive. Now that I have a daughter this issue is even closer to my heart. I want her to develop into a strong, educated, and independent women.
What is it like to be a role model for girls as an athlete?
Growing up I always had female athletes as role models. I liked watching the Olympics and dreamed that I could be the next Silken Laumann, but in gymnastics not rowing. It is kind of surreal that now I am a role model for young girls. I hope I inspire them to dream big just as I did at their age. I have so much fun coaching young girls and seeing them develop their self-confidence through learning a new skill is so rewarding.
This year I worked as a Program Manager at Gymnastics Ontario and I got to work with the gymnastics community on programs that directly impact girls. The highlight of the year was travelling as the head of delegation to the Eastern Championships in Newfoundland with 150 young athletes who represented Ontario. It was wonderful to be a part of their journey and watch them achieve their goals and make new friends from across the country.
What are you busy with these days?
I am keeping very busy with my new baby girl who is now six weeks old. It is amazing to watch her learn something new every week. I have just started to exercise again and plan to slowly resume my training over the next couple of months. My goal is to compete at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto as I have never competed in front of a home crowd before.