For as long as she can remember, Jen has been encouraged to explore. Her earliest memories are of family camping trips into the heart of Algonquin and the interior of Killarney Provincial Parks. Looking back at her family’s earliest photographs of their adventures, she can’t say that much has changed in the quarter century that has passed. Jen’s early beginnings as a campfire-loving, bug-catching, mud-puddle-jumping, tree-climbing tot sparked in her a love for the natural world that has been fostered and grown into a full-blown passion for everything outdoors.
Jen has always been a small town girl, growing up on a small family farm, north of Toronto, Ontario. She has been lucky to have played the role of ‘oldest sister’ to four younger siblings and of daughter to an amazing pair of ‘campy’ parents. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of three, but she didn’t let growing up with diabetes stop her from living a healthy, active, adventurous life. Jen spent 18 summers of her life at Camp Huronda, the local camp for children with diabetes, played ringette, hockey and rugby competitively through high school and wrestled at both the provincial and national level on the varsity women’s team during her years at Brock University. Diabetes has, in fact, given Jen many amazing opportunities to adventure and explore throughout her life, including paddling the waters of northern Ontario, hiking the Rocky Mountains of Alberta and splashing in the cool Pacific waters off the coast of Vancouver Island. Through diabetes education initiatives, Jen has travelled throughout North America as well as to Europe and Asia.
After pursuing Bachelor degrees in both Kinesiology and Education, Jen made the decision to follow her passion for the outdoors and step outside of the box (read: classroom) she felt stuck in as a teacher. She completed her Masters of Education degree, researching the role that outdoor adventure and experiential learning can play in the health and wellness of young adults with Type 1 diabetes. In 2009, Jen began working with Connected in Motion – a perfect fit!
Jen has taught visual arts, physical education and special needs programming at the elementary level, is certified as an Advanced Wilderness First Responder (80 hour course), a National Lifeguard and has additional teaching qualifications in special education, environmental education and outdoor education. She has 8 years of experience working with challenge courses throughout Ontario. Jen is the elementary age programmer for Children with Diabetes, a member of the Diabetes Education and Camping Association’s DLead council and a Faculty Member with the International Diabetes Federation’s Young Leaders program. She has also volunteered and worked with the Canadian Diabetes Association, Diabetes Hope Foundation and the JDRF.
Currently, Jen works as the Executive Director at Connected in Motion and as an instructor with ALIVE Outdoors.
website ninja + photo wizard
Mike has been traveling and enjoying the outdoors his whole life. Growing up in Mississauga, Ontario, Mike started going to summer camps at 8 years old and has spent time in the wilderness every summer since. With 7 years experience as a camper at the Taylor Statten Camps, and working at Camp Huronda for five summers including mountain bike instructor and boating instructor, Mike has spent just about every summer of his life in Northern Ontario.
At 15 years old, Mike moved to England for school and used his European homestead as a base to travel numerous European countries. This was about the time he started seriously taking photos. Traveling through England, Ireland, France, Italy, Switzerland and Spain, Mike combined his love of travel and action sports and started making photos.
After finishing a 4 year Managerial and Organizational Studies degree at the University of Western Ontario, Mike moved to Toronto where he is currently working in marketing and photography. Oh yeah, he’ll continue helping to bring Connected In Motion to the internet. You can see Mike’s photo work at www.mikelastphoto.com.
website ninja + photo wizard
When he isn’t day dreaming about ripping down a mountain in knee deep powder, Hank can be found behind a camera telling people where to stand and what to say. His passion for film and all things media began when he was a young child. The experiences of seeing blockbuster films at young age had him hooked.
Whether it’s on a mountain, or inside a studio, the need to tell a story through images consumes his time. His love and passion for the outdoors and filmmaking collide head on in his role with Connected in Motion as their video producer.
community manager + social media guru
Truth be told, Virtue leans closer to ‘diabetic online geek’ than ‘diabetic outdoors enthusiast’. Fittingly, her major research while completing her Masters of Social Work at Ryerson University focused on the ways in which people express life with diabetes via online applications. As part of Connected in Motion she is expanding he physical activity endeavours, while learning to mix more #outdoorsy #diabetes hashtags into her Twitter vocabulary.
director of programming
While attending York University to complete her Bachelor of Arts with a Specialized Honors in Kinesiology and Health Science, Julie also pursued her love of Alpine skiing, and adventure travel, eventually traveling around the globe to parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Central America. Traveling eventually led to living overseas in South Korea, and South Africa.
In southern Africa she continued to expand her love of outdoor travel adventures, Skiing the Drakensburg Mountains in Lesotho and completing her Open Water PADI scuba certification in Mozambique were among her most treasured moments. Once home form her extended travels Julie began laying down roots close to where she grew up in the Toronto Area, working for the City of Toronto as a Snow School Director, for one of the city’s ski areas, then Animas Canada as an Inside Sales Representative selling insulin pumps.
The diabetes community always remained a constant in her life, volunteering her time as an Ambassador for Connected In Motion and an Elite Coach for Riding On Insulin. As the old saying goes, the stars aligned, and Julie came on board as the Director Of Programs for Connected in Motion in January 2014. She is currently continuing to push herself on the slopes hoping to achieve a level 3 CSIA ski certification in the coming winters, and checking off the countries and adventures on her travel bucket list!
Outdoor spaces are Chloe’s classroom, office and playground. With degrees in Physical & Health Education and Geography from Queen’s University, as well as a Bachelor of Education with a specialization in Outdoor Experiential Education, Chloe has spent the past decade teaching Outdoor Education and guiding canoe and raft-based expeditions in Ontario, Quebec, the Arctic and Sub-Arctic.
She is certified as an Advanced Wilderness First Responder (80 hour course), Swift Water Rescue Technician (SRT), Nahanni River Guide, Flat Water Canoe Instructor and more and has traveled extensively within Canada, as well as to Europe, South and Central America, Australia and New Zealand, where she circumnavigated the South Island of New Zealand by bicycle.
Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 18, Chloe missed out on her diabetic childhood. Too old for pediatric programs and summer camps, she was directed to the adult health care system. To her, it seemed a barren, uninspiring place to be navigated only when absolutely necessary. In her opinion, support systems for people living with diabetes needed a breath of fresh air.
In 2008, Chloe had her first opportunity to connect with other young adults with diabetes while learning to ride a road bike with a group of Type 1 cyclists in Australia. Cruising down the road in their slipstream, she realized the same physics relied upon by cyclists in a peloton or geese flying in a ‘V’ applied to people with living with diabetes.
Being surrounded by other people with diabetes for the first time was like cruising in a diabetes slipstream. She realized if people living with diabetes faced their challenges as a group, they could achieve more, faster and with less resistance that anyone could traveling through the landscape of diabetes alone.
Inspired by the possibility of using outdoor experiences and the process of experiential education as a forum to engage people living with Type 1 diabetes, she founded Connected in Motion – an organization she hoped would fill the gap in the landscape of diabetes with experiential education programs and social opportunities for young adults and adults with diabetes.