Wellfit Girls Get Naples Teens Moving

Wellfit Girls inspires high schoolers with skills gained during exposure to outdoor adventures. Photos by Natalie Bradley

When Jill Wheeler moved to Naples in 2006, she felt the area was missing outdoor adventure programs for girls. A psychotherapist, she was aware of research showing that girls often start taking less initiative in classrooms and group settings around age 10, so Wheeler wanted a program that taught girls to turn obstacles into opportunities. After a few years in the community, she founded Wellfit Girls, which helps high school students develop the skills to “climb high in all areas of life.”

Wellfit Girls inspires high schoolers with skills gained during exposure to outdoor adventures, photo by Natalie BradleyThe main program, Summit Sisters, integrates leadership, fitness, holistic well-being, and confidence-building and uses incremental steps to teach girls they can achieve nearly any goal. Three months into the course, the participants—some of whom never ran at all before joining—run a 5K. This success helps prepare them mentally to summit a mountain in an expedition at the end of the program. Many girls go on to other leadership programs, give back to the community, and find success in other areas of their lives. “I have girls say to me all the time, ‘I now realize I can do anything,’” Wheeler says. “‘When I’m going for a job interview or I’m applying to college—I climbed a mountain. I can do this.’”