Jennifer Gladwin is a personal trainer by profession and a motivator by passion. Earlier this year she founded the non-profit Kelea Foundation based on the islands of Hawaii. Her goal? To empower women through watersports. Sounds pretty epic to us! Read on to find out more about the brains and beauty behind this community-centric organisation….

Hey Jenn, can you tell us about Kelea Foundation and what inspired you to create this non-profit for women in boardsports…Kelea Foundation has been an evolution over the past year. It started as a way for me and my friends to just clear our minds and hearts. We recognised the power of the water to transform us. We could just “paddle it out.” And that was the name of the first group. As I started meeting with more and more women, the barriers that kept women out of the water became more apparent and finding ways to overcome those barriers became important. I watched as women would completely transform after just a few sessions in the water, whether it was paddling, surfing, kiting, swimming – they were empowered and strong, clear-minded and filled with joy.

The passion of Kelea Foundation is to make watersports accessible to all women and to help those women who excel in their sport reach whatever level is next for them. Whether a woman wants to paddle between islands to raise awareness for a cause or she wants the chance to enter a wave contest for the first time, Kelea and the community will be there to support and nurture her. We also use our sports, passions, and the water as a tool for growth, creating mentorship relationships and community based around a common love for the water.

Princess Kelea is a Maui legend. She was infamous for saying, “I will never marry a man, only my surfboard!” In true Hawaiian style, there was a scandalous story about how she was kidnapped by the cousin of the King of Oahu while surfing out at Hookipa! You can read more about Princess Kelea here. Kelea inspires us everyday to chase our first love: the sea, unapologetically and wildly.

Jenn finding some downtime on the water. And loving it.

Wow, the way you describe it all sounds amazing! Have you had any challenges in starting up and if so, how have you overcome these? This question made me laugh OUT LOUD! I once described starting a non-profit to someone as looking at an enormous steel wall in front of your face that reaches to the sky. Then deciding to climb it. There are challenges EVERYDAY, from learning non-profit tax law to finding dollars where there are only pennies (author interjection – totally understand this one!!). The ONLY WAY I have overcome the numerous challenges that come up is by reaching out to the community. The support I receive from the people around me floats Kelea Foundation. I have found that if I just talk about Kelea and talk some more and then talk some more, people get excited and give what they have and who they are. Everyday we grow and get more excited – and this afterall is really what it`s all about – getting stoked. 

How can women become involved or participate? Kelea Foundation is really a launching ground for women who want to make an impact in their community through their love of the water. The best way to get involved is to communicate! Join our facebook page or go to the website. Soon Kelea will open chapters wherever there is a desire for one. We will be holding clinics and having trips. Kelea Foundation thrives on the collective energy of the community. If you have an idea or a passion, share it with us!!

Another way to support the cause of the Kelea Foundation is to donate. Currently our biggest barrier to achieving our goals is finding the funding to pay for things like insurance and equipment. There are so many skilled people in this world, I cannot do it alone, it is the community that makes is all happen. What do you LOVE doing? Can you share that part of you with us? Please do! 

Get talking. The biggest growth happens by simply talking: about ideas, what we love, what we want to change, what we are thankful for, what we need. So, talk about Kelea, talk to me (I love love love emails!), talk to your neighbour, talk to the stranger in the park or the girl blowing up her kite next ot you! Share your ideas and lets get working together!

If we came to visit, where would you take us for a good workout? And coffee afterwards?? Obviously I would take you on an incredible downwind paddle from Maliko Gulch to Kanaha Beach Park here on the North Shore of Maui! This run is the most inspiring workout you will get in you r life, handsdown! The wind swell builds and creates these ‘bumps,’ little waves that you can ride forevery. Its like surfing for 6.5 miles! Along the way is some of the most beautiful coastline in the world and incredible reef life.

And afterwards we would cruise over to Paia Bay Coffee  to visit Danny, Josh and Laura, and get the best coffee and sandwiches (my favourite food!) on the Island!

Words you live by….Most recently my mantra has become, “Silencing the Drama Queen!” (the one in my own head). On my bathroom mirror in big red marker it says, ‘This is practice. Are you f#@$ing up enough?’ – Life is practice, if you are not messing up and crashing hard, you`re not trying hard enough, not pushing your limits enough. Growth comes from mistakes, learning can only happen with failure.

And a life-changing quote that I think has shaped my life more than any other is:

Do not ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself, what makes you come alive and do that, because the world needs people who come alive.

And that is my life. I can say from loads of experiences with people that this is the most important, effective and contagious character trait to have –

to come alive!

Your favourite surf/SUP spots…can I give you three??

1/ Hookipa Beach, North Shore, Maui

This beach inspires me and teaches me everyday. Not to mention it was Kelea`s homebreak! And some of the best windsurfing in the world here too! We all share this break: surf/SUP/kite/windsurf and it`s beautiful…

2/ Maraavi Beach, Tel Aviv, Israel

I have a sweet surf community in TA. I love the guys at Hani surf factory and even though the waves can be few and far between, I am still so connected to surfing underneath the old ottoman clock tower in Jaffo (don`t SUP here though!)

3/ Peskis, Isla Vista, California

This was my homebreak in college. I literally lived on the cliff overlooking this break. It was perfection. Awesome fun gently waves with LOADS of kelp!

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