La Grande Traversee is a national road-cycling relay for high school students. It was created in 2013 as an experiential education program focused on leadership, healthy life habits, and teamwork skills. 300 teens from across to the country participate in the relay every year.
To do this, they train for several months, adopt a healthy and active lifestyle. For 5-6 weeks in May and June, participants alternate to cycle across Canada, covering a distance of about 120 km per day. They also hold daily conferences in schools during which they encourage their peers to follow their example, to adopt a healthy lifestyle and join the movement.
La Grande Traversee’s mission is to encourage people to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle.
To achieve this goal, La Grande Traversee has partnered with a large number of schools across Canada to help young people to “Make healthy choices” and adopt a healthy and lasting lifestyle for generations to come.
The main pillars of La Grande Traversee are physical activity and healthy eating habits.
In addition to its young audience, La Grande Traversee conveys its message to parents to raise awareness of the importance of instilling a healthy lifestyle in their children and to understand that these habits are spurred by providing a good example.
The ideas, distinctiveness and personal contribution of each individual are identified and taken into account. Although La Grande Traversee encourages young people as a whole to adopt a healthy lifestyle, it understands that the focus on health may take different forms depending on people or groups and adapts its goal to these needs. As La Grande Traversee develops new partnerships, it ensures that each and every one will feel welcome and will be integrated in the team and in each of the upcoming actions. In fact, for La Grande Traversee, the collaboration of all those involved is vital to the overall success of its program.
Creativity and taking action
La Grande Traversee embarked on this endeavour in 2013 holding its very first event, a road-cycling relay across Canada, with the participation of hundreds of students from high schools across the country. The instigators of this unique project “dreamt big” and above all “differently”, firmly believing that taking action leads to social change far better than just words. As such, the message was clear and strong throughout the journey, from one ocean to the other: leading by example through action rather than speech.
This is what distinguishes La Grande Traversee whose credo could be summarized as follows: to stimulate and keep young people active through original, fun and dynamic concepts.
La Grande Traversee wants to surround itself with passionate people, driven by a deep desire to inspire youth. We believe in the principle of teaching by setting the example and facing challenges with passion.
Encouraging young people to adopt a healthy lifestyle is not what we are do… it’s what we are made of!
The LGT Story
It all started in 2013
Laurent Brisebois, a long-time cyclist and triathlete, was vice principal at a Greater Vancouver francophone school, in British Columbia. Since 2009, he had been coaching students to participate in the 1000km Grand Défi Pierre Lavoie, an annual cycling marathon in the Province of Quebec. The impact on health, commitment and leadership of the students was simply amazing. The only drawback was that spots were limited and only 3 to 4 students could participate every year.
In September 2012, Laurent asked his School District (CSF) permission to organize a 3-week cross Canada cycling relay in order to increase the number of participating cyclists. After cycling from British Columbia to Quebec, students would take part in the Grand Défi Pierre Lavoie. The project was ambitious and unheard of for a school board. It received approval late January 2013. Volunteers, funding, vehicles, trailers, bicycles, permits, police escorts, etc. needed to be in place by Spring.
Emilie Bureau, a work colleague with an incredible energy and contagious happiness offered to help and got involved in the project. Evenings and weekends spent working at the school became the norm as the countdown had started.
Guy-Marie Brisebois, Laurent’s father, had already cycled across Canada several times before getting involved with this project. As a retired teacher, he got involved with route planning and assembling of a team of volunteer drivers. His two brothers, his neighbours and friends joined the adventure as well.
More and more friends volunteered, taking time off to support students in their endeavour. Fuelling on positive energy, leadership and mutual support, LGT spirit was taking shape, We had limited resources but spared no effort in making sure students would experience a life changing event.
In search of a spokesperson, we naturally thought of Jean-Luc Brassard, Olympic Gold Medalist and mogul skiing. Jean-Luc was not a cyclist but he was a man of integrity, passionate about sport, and with a strong desire to give back to the community. Jean-Luc was so trilled with the invitation that he committed himself to riding for the entire length of the trip.
La GrandeTraversée (LGT) was born.
By May 2013 everything was in place and the peloton left Vancouver with Pierre Lavoie joining the team for first day of the ride.
Now in its sixth year, LGT has become a major national event spanning over 6 weeks, bringing together hundreds of students and schools from across Canada and including many athletes and public figures.
The team of volunteers has grown much larger but the LGT spirit remains the same. We are still driving on positive energy, leadership and mutual support. New opportunities arise every year, opening up amazing opportunities and new roads to explore.
This is rather fitting because at LGT, expanding roads and possibilities is exactly what we are all about !