Catching Up With B4BC Executive Director Erika Seward

Check out Boarding For Breast Cancer’s new “Be Healthy. Get Active. Ride!” campaign:

B4BC Executive Director Erica Seward

B4BC Executive Director Erica Seward

Last week, Boarding For Breast Cancer (B4BC) launched its “Be Healthy. Get Active. Ride!” campaign, which was created to reflect the spirit of the organization and seeks to inspire girls to be girls, have fun, be naturally who they were born to be, and above all--live a healthy lifestyle. The campaign--which includes a series of ads featuring team riders Elena Hight, Hana Beaman, Kimmy Fasani, Courtney Conlogue, Sage Erickson, Malia Manuel, Liz Clark, Mimi Knoop, Allysha Bergado and Tarah Mikacich--is geared toward capturing the essence of B4BC and its advocates, and inspiring youth, especially young women, to join the conversation on breast cancer awareness.

“There is such a heightened awareness of breast cancer, especially during October, which makes it a really opportune time to grab people's attention,” says B4BC Executive Director Erika Seward. “For us, we'd like to change the conversation and place the focus back on each of us as individuals. How will you turn your awareness to action? That's the prompt for much of our work that has always been focused on education and empowering young people to take charge of their health and be their own advocate -- a message that transcends so many facets of our lives.”

We caught up with Seward in the midst of her hectic schedule for a chance to learn more about what B4BC has planned for the month of October, the organization’s hopes for the new campaign, new takes on partnerships with big brands like The North Face, and thinking outside the box when it comes to the direction B4BC is moving in order to make a difference.

How long has this campaign been in the making and what went into it the behind the scenes?

I joined B4BC in October 2010 and I'd say that back then there was a lot of talking with the team about who we are as an organization, what sets us apart as a brand, our strengths, areas for improvement, all that good stuff. I'd dare say that when B4BC was founded in 1996, while I wasn't in the mix, we were one of the very first foundations focused on breast cancer education and prevention for the younger generation. I'm sure many of you remember the Snowboard + Music Festival and the good that came from that. Since that time, there have been a lot of organizations that have come about who all feel just as strongly about breast cancer prevention and are doing amazing work.

So, it started there--as part of a long-range plan. We began canvassing our partners and talking with riders. Who's in? Who's committed? Who's invested in the vision?

Our roster of team riders came together - all of them such amazing women. And in May we came together to film and shoot, with our brand partners contributing to the process as well. It turned out beautifully and we couldn't be happier!

Special thanks are in order for all involved including our Riders - Elena Hight, Hana Beaman, Kimmy Fasani, Courtney Conlogue, Sage Erickson, Malia Manuel, Liz Clark, Mimi Knoop, Allysha Bergado and Tarah Mikacich.

What sets you apart from other organizations with a similar mission?

We've again, been asking the hard questions. So why does B4BC exist and what can we do to contribute? How do we evolve, progress? Where did we come from? Where are we headed?

This campaign hopefully communicates the essence of who we are and offers a fresh take on B4BC, as told by our team riders. We've always been an advocate for young women and girls and understand the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle as it's our way of life. By inspiring others to adopt positive lifestyle habits, communicating the benefits through educational outreach and offering opportunities to be active - whether through our board-a-thons, girls clinics, or events - we believe we're doing what we do best. That level of authenticity is key.

We're not interested in doing what others are doing. And if we are, how can we work together? The public, and the communities we serve all want us to achieve the same outcome. So, if we're all working towards a common goal, let's find ways to come together. The only way to move forward and to make real progress is to collaborate.

What are three things the action sports industry can do to help the cause?

It starts with you.

While fundraising or donating or rocking a wristband certainly helps our efforts and others like us, I'm challenging each of you to make YOURSELF the priority this October. Like I've mentioned in other conversations, the BEST thing you can do to help this month is take a break and focus on yourself. Commit to one little healthy change for the better, each day. You'll start to notice how great it feels to put yourself first and improve your life and from there, you'll be primed and ready to share those positive vibes with those around you.

Think of us for that little nugget and maybe then you'll be ready to jump on board and…

Collaborate.

Think about what's important to you or your brand. And let us know. It always works out so much better when everyone feels equally invested in a partnership and is working towards the same goal.

Collaboration is a buzzword around here. For example, we work hand-in-hand with our riders, talking daily about what they are passionate about on and off their boards. We're working with them and their sponsors to develop programs and initiatives that are sustainable and that everyone feels good about.

So, if we haven't chatted yet - let's find some time if collaboration is important to you and you feel passionate about our cause and supporting women in the space.

Lastly, let's celebrate the ladies!

Look around you and start to appreciate the women and the girls in your lives, whoever you are.

Especially within the boarding community, let's celebrate our love of these sports by showing young women and girls that they can do it too – offering equal opportunities for them to experience that same joy and by showcasing them in ads, plus campaigns that embrace their grace, athleticism, and beauty. Something that all girls can point to and say "Wow, that's rad. I can do that too!"

Let's commit as an industry to advance participation in these sports for young girls, my daughters included. Everyone stands to benefit from that. Everyone. From a health and business perspective.

That's the role B4BC intends to play on a larger scale as well, highlighting females as role models and setting the tone for future generations.

What are some of the initiatives or events that will continue throughout the year for B4BC, and how can people get involved?

We're just coming down from the high of a big event, Skate the Coast, which included over 150 riders coming together to celebrate life and push 18-miles down the L.A. Coastline. It was incredibly successful on all levels from the energy of the day to the fundraising. We've just started to unearth the potential of peer-to-peer fundraising versus pure sponsorship of events and we will continue to utilize this model in the future. Funds raised through these events will also be funneled back into local non-profits that align with B4BC's mission. It is important to support these local communities and for them to realize the immediate impact of their efforts.

This week we head on the road for the Check One, Two Campus Tour presented by The North Face which makes stops at 25 different college campuses throughout the Northeast and California. The tour is focused on providing preventative health information and we also partner with local campus groups that can continue to be a resource throughout the year once we head home.

Late January begins the Shred the Love Winter Series that again focuses on being healthy, active and aware. On-mountain activities, board-a-thons, and peer-to-peer fundraising contests and events will run all Season long. We're encouraging nationwide participation and we'll also be hosting our first Canadian event at Red Mountain as the kick-off. We're super excited about that.

Which retailers, brands, athletes, etc. have jumped on board with your initiatives and what opportunities are there for others to get involved?

Over the past 16 years, there has been a tremendous amount of support from within the industry which has enabled us to be around for so long. Thank you, thank you, thank you…you know who you are.

And, this week there will be an announcement about our partnership with The North Face - who has invested significantly in our programs - including the Campus Tour and the B4BC Survivorship Fund which connects breast cancer survivors with nature-based wellness experiences that enhance their long-term wellbeing and survivorship.

We have over 10 programs that can all be enhanced and supported so check them out at www.b4bc.org/programs as a start.

And we'd love to bring back the Snowboard + Music Festival, which we've already begun vetting with key folks. Always so much going on, and would welcome a conversation with any of you readers and visionaries out there. I'm sure there are ways we can collaborate and create something worthwhile and meaningful. It's a pretty easy thing to do if you open your heart to the possibilities.

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