Endurance athlete Sophie Radcliffe is blazing a trail for London girls

The fitness blogger wants young women to tell anxiety and body insecurities to take a hike

Fitness blogger and public speaker Sophie Radcliffe is getting girls into the outdoors. In partnership with the Youth Sport Trust, her organisation TrailBlazers uses the transformative power of outdoor adventure to tackle poor mental health in teenage girls across London and Kent. As well as a series of workshops and talks given by Radcliffe, the programme culminates in an adventure camp where the girls are challenged to put everything they learned into practice.

“The outdoors is the most incredible place to challenge yourself and learn about who you are, to test yourself against nature,” says Radcliffe, 33.

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“I really struggled with body confidence growing up, but once I started working outdoors I realised I don’t need to look like girls in magazines because my body can go and climb mountains, it can do marathons. It’s really powerful to give a young woman access to that kind of thinking.”

The TrailBlazers programme also takes time to show people what outdoor space is available for free in their local area, understanding that many would never have had the opportunity to go exploring.
Disadvantaged teenage girls are less likely to have been involved in sports, too, so they’re encouraged to take advantage of the adventure and test out their hiking skills. 

TrailBlazers is now on a quest for funding to roll the programme out to more schools, and to allow Radcliffe to develop a similar programme for boys, for which there is high demand.

“Forget your job or your Instagram followers,” Radcliffe continues. “When you’re climbing a mountain, nature doesn’t care about any of those things. All that matters is who you are when things get tough.”

Many of the 100 girls Radcliffe has worked with so far had never left London before, the founder explains, and some were “genuinely blown away” by their first sight of the sea or a sunrise.

To learn about more pioneering organisations giving marginalised people access to the outdoors, pick up a copy of this week’s Big Issue from your local vendor.