What began as an “ah-ha” moment for one student is inspiring students and teachers across the city.

When Amina Mohamed was playing basketball, a referee told her he was concerned the pin tying her hijab — a head scarf worn by some Muslim women — may hurt her or others.

“Me taking it off during the game just wasn’t respectful to myself,” Mohamed said.

Her solution was to give students the option to wear a tight-fitting sporty hijab instead. As a grade 12 student, she initiated a project that would see her school, Dakota Collegiate, become the first school in Canada to make logoed sports hijabs part of their school sports uniform for Muslim players.

And now it’s gaining momentum.

“We saw it on the news. Saw that Dakota Collegiate was doing it and we thought it would be really valuable for our students as well,” said Amanda Tétrault, a teacher at Ecole River Heights School who initiated the effort there.

Now at girls who wear a hijab at Ecole River Heights School who play on a sports team will get a sports hijab along with their jersey.

“It they would like to use it for phys-ed because it’s more breathable and easy to wear they can have that too,” said Tétrault.

Instead of a head scarf, grade seven student Mumtaz Abdullahi wears a sports hijab in gym class that’s lighter and has her school colours and logo.

“I feel good. Because now I can be a part of sports and I don’t have to worry about fixing my hijab every moment of my life,” Abdullahi said.

Amina and Nusaybah Mohamed, the sisters who started the initiative at Dakota Collegiate, have been recognized and given awards by both Winnipeg’s largest mosque and the Manitoba Human Rights Commission for trying to encourage more girls to play sports and creating spaces of inclusion.

Jill Mathez, the principal of Dakota Collegiate has heard from a half a dozen other schools in Winnipeg that have shown interest.

“One thing I’ve taken from it is, as young as you are, you can make a difference and you can change something,” Nusaybah Mohamed said.