Global Ambassador Jill Wheeler Launches the Warrior One Project
Yogis are familiar with the Warrior One pose; it’s a cornerstone of any yoga practice and represents the spiritual warrior who does battle with the universal enemy—self-ignorance. The Warrior One pose develops the inner qualities necessary to realize one’s greatest personal strengths and spiritual potential.
But Warrior One is also something else. It’s a feature-length documentary film chronicling the inspiring journey of eleven at-risk teens who spend five months on the Wellfit Girls Program—a training and leadership program, including an expedition to Peru, that leads them on the path of personal discovery and emotional growth. The brainchild of Bronwen Global Ambassador Jill Wheeler, Warrior One aims to both tell the story of a small group of girls finding inner strengths and to inspire other girls to become confident and competent leaders.
"I believe in strong alliances and powerful partnerships, so that’s why being an ambassador for Bronwen Jewelry makes my heart sing. We accomplish so much more in partnership."~Jill Wheeler
Jill, who is a professional counselor, leadership consultant, writer, yoga instructor, adventurer and athlete, says “I was an at-risk teen, but no one knew how much pain I was holding inside. The day I started believing in myself, there was no going back”, says Jill. That day—when Jill surrendered fear and anxiety—was the result of a solo backpacking trip when she was 21 and it confirmed for her the therapeutic power of nature.
“I had found my true calling,” says Jill of that trip. And to answer that call, Jill went on to a career that blended her passion for outdoor adventure with her interest in helping others live healthier, happier lives. As licensed counselor, Jill founded the Wellfit Institute, which offers a multi-disciplinary approach to health and fitness through yoga classes, adventure travel, life coaching, counseling, and motivational talks for individuals, families, businesses, and other groups. Her aim is simple—empowerment.
Jill brought this theme of empowerment to her Wellfit Girls Program, using strategies from adventure therapy to help the girls address challenge in productive ways, alleviate stress effectively, recognize harmful personal patterns or behaviors, and develop social and leadership skills. The deliberate use of metaphor, which is one of the foundational tools of adventure therapy, taught girls to transfer skills developed while facing challenges in the backcountry to challenges faced in their home environments. And the social community of the Wellfit Girls Program fostered relationships that can serve as support systems for healthy behaviors. Having found solace and courage in nature herself, Jill wanted other girls to have a similar experience. “I wanted to create a program that would empower teen girls and teach them that they can climb high in all areas of life no matter how low they felt about themselves or life,” she says.
The program began in southern Florida with weekly groups, fitness activities, yoga and wellness practices and culminated in an 8-day trip to Peru, during which the girls helped build a house, taught yoga, and helped with basic hygiene systems. They then were joined by ten Peruvian girls for the trek to Machu Picchu. Says Jill, “Our girls actually got to see that what they did made a difference and it had a profound effect on them and what they now know is possible.”
“Simple connections can turn into making girls and women feel beautiful, important, and connected to one another.” ~ Jill Wheeler
Warrior One (the film), which documents the entire 5-month program, is in post-production, and the producers have launched a crowd-funding campaign to drive the film into the final phase and ultimate release in theaters. More than a movie, Warrior One is a movement, the release of which will inspire girls to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth.
Jill’s formal relationship with Bronwen Jewelry comes decades after a friendship that began in the 1990s, when both Jill and Bronwen were working for Outward Bound. The off-season found them leading trips for the same wilderness adventure therapy program, and a 30-day trip in Death Valley with high school students was the catalyst for true bonding. Both Bronwen and Jill–who favors Bronwen’s Glasswrap Bracelets and Slim Leather Cuffs–wish that Bronwen’s bling had been available to them during their days in the field, to add a little sparkle and color to their dusty desert treks.
No stranger to promoting products that embrace a particular lifestyle and culture, Jill is also an ambassador for Lululemon, which—serendipitously—makes active-wear clothing that looks great when worn with Bronwen Jewelry. Then again, doesn’t everything look great when paired with Bronwen Jewelry?
Jill is currently going cross-eyed from too many hours spent editing film takes. Check out her uplifting musings on Facebook (Wellfit Institute) and Instagram (@wellfitjill).
*photo credit: Erik Keller Photography