Local Women Making History: Sarah Thomas
By Kellie Edson
When our editors let us know that for March we were doing pieces about inspiring women in our community for women’s history month, I knew I had to do mine on my dear friend Sarah Thomas. When you first meet Sarah, she may seem reserved or shy, but when you get her talking about what she’s passionate about, she radiates light and excitement. I am ever inspired by her willingness to give her whole self to her passions and her desire to inspire and empower other women, and especially young girls.
Sarah has been a part of Girl Scouts of America for 25 years. She started as a Daisy scout, and when she graduated, she became a leader right out of high school. “It builds girls who are strong and courageous,” Sarah says, “Like with a lot of community service, I think people tend to think ‘Oh someone else will do it’ and that’s not the case. You have to be that someone else and step up to be role models for these girls.”
Her favorite part of being a leader is watching the girls grow and change over the years. Her first troop’s members who started as kindergarteners are now off to college and she says it’s been so fun to see them grow into the next generation of young women. She currently runs a fairly large troop of girls in West Sacramento. The Girl Scouts are always looking for volunteers and troop leaders. “It’s cookie season, we are everywhere right now. If you’re interested, just ask a leader or volunteer at the booths. Everyone is really nice and would love if you got involved. It’s really a place for these girls to have a space to be themselves and to flourish. Honestly, the sisterhood created by Girl Scouts is something we women could use more of as adults.” You can find out more about girl scouts and volunteer opportunities here.
Sarah is also the education specialist and outreach event coordinator for Explorit Science Center in Davis. Sarah’s passion for science education and nature is palpable. I’ve never met a woman who lights up more about snakes and spiders. On top of her regular work at Explorit, she spends her free evenings – which are few and far between – doing science nights for local schools.
“You hear all these statistics about girls who loved science and nature as children but then didn’t go on to pursue these careers. Because their passions aren’t fostered at a young age, they give it up. It’s really sad to me, says Sarah. “Our girls shouldn’t be limited like that.” She’s seen so many girls who are curious and passionate and talkative be squashed and told to be quiet. “We shouldn’t be doing that. It’s that questioning and curiosity that’s going to cure diabetes and cancer. It’s imperative.”
Even if you don’t consider yourself a scientist or part of the science field, you can get involved with Explorit. Sarah says they’ve even had an artist come talk about making her own yarn. “It’s really a lot like Girl Scouts, if you have something that you think young kids, and girls, could benefit from knowing, then come share it. Even if you touch one girl or show one girl something that’s out there that they didn’t know existed, it’s worth it. You can find more information about Explorit science center here.
A jack of many trades, Sarah Thomas is also a Zumba fitness instructor. But not just any instructor, she epitomizes the success story of Zumba. She lost over 100 lbs with Zumba as her main form of cardio. She has been a licensed instructor for three years, but has been attending classes for more than four.
“When I first discovered Zumba it was back when they used to turn the lights off at the 24 hour fitness classes. “I was doing my thing on the treadmill and I remember I went up and basically asked the front desk what in the world those crazy people were doing in the Group X room with the lights off,” she recalls, “I’m embarrassed now to think how negative I was about it. But once I gave it a shot and went to my first class, the music hit me and it just stuck.”
A year later, she got certified to teach, thinking maybe she’d use what she learned for the kids she worked with, but never that she’d actually really teach a zumba class. That makes me laugh to even type it, because I couldn’t imagine her not teaching now. She has regular 6 AM, yes AM, classes at 24 (hour fitness) and sometimes travels hours to attend master classes on the weekends.
“It’s the best workout and anyone can do it. We have a saying ‘there’s no wrong moves in Zumba, only unintentional solos’ and that’s really at the heart of it. It doesn’t matter what you do. Just keep moving, have fun. It’s freeing, and empowering to just let all your problems go and dance.”
It’s not to say that men can’t be empowered by Zumba, in fact Sarah actually met the love of her life in a Zumba class, but as women we feed off of each other and Zumba is a way to thrive off of each other’s positive energy. In case you have been living under a rock, you can learn more about Zumba at www.zumba.com and if you are interested in taking Sarah’s class, she teaches at the 24 Hour Fitness on Fulton and Hurley on Fridays, bright and early at 6am.
Sarah is someone who is really ‘walking the walk’ and supporting and inspiring women and young girls in our community– giving herself to so many different passions in so many different ways. We can all as women – and men – take a page from her book and step up to help shape the lives girls and women through these and other local organizations. By lifting each other up, we lift ourselves and the whole community up.