There’s a transitional time, a no-women’s-land for many young women when they reach Grade 7 in the school system. The next year, they make the quantum leap to either junior high or regular high school depending on the local school system, but however it plays out, this time in a girl’s life can be super-charged with issues of self-esteem, confidence, hard choices and self-image, to name just a few.
Three year’s ago a program was developed by a local educator who recognized the self-esteem issues plaguing Grade 7 girls despite their outward bravado. She devised an all-day workshop and invited all the Grade 7 girls in the Quesnel district to attend.
Called Girl to Girl (G2G), the workshop is still going strong and growing.
This year, the organization and execution of the workshop was handed over to three women Joelene Berry, Teann Ingram and Christa Pooley and the focus was on empowerment and self-esteem. They, in turn, enlisted the help of women from the community from all walks of life to help deliver the program.
Run entirely by 14 volunteers, G2G enlisted help from the community to present the workshop then invited all Grade 7 girls in the district. The response was encouraging with 75 expressing an interest in attending and 65 showing up at Correlieu on the day of the workshop.
Joelene Berry said they immediately set about mixing the girls up so they would begin to form new friendships and connections that could be carried into their high school years.
“We had breakout groups and the format was subjects and conversations that we would wish to talk to our own 12-year-old selves about,” she said.
“No matter what our experiences were, we were all once 12 years old and could relate to these girls.”
Mixed in with serious subjects like making good choices, ways to work through stress (and recognizing stress), being unique and authentic, make up (when and why makeup is important), healthy relationships with peers and parents carefully avoiding romantic relationships, were fun activities such as yoga and art.
One of the exercises was thanks to a donation of Tee-shirts for everyone from Integris Credit Union. The girls were supplied with a list of positive words and they were to choose which words applied to them or they aspired to and write them on their Tee-shirt.
Each girl was also given a gratitude jar to take home where they could collect experiences and events they were grateful for.
“The workshop balanced the inner feelings and actions of the girls with fun activities,” Joelene said.
“We are hoping to add even more fun and engaging activities next year.”
However, for Joelene, one of the most moving moments during the entire day was watching 65 Grade 7 girls embracing yoga with Tanya Garland and experiencing the benefits.
“I expect that will remain a staple of the program,” she said with a smile.
As each girl filled in their thoughts and feelings about the day, Joelene and her fellow volunteers were thrilled with the positive feedback and will look to include suggestions as they begin to plan next year’s event.
“We hope to empower young girls to strive to be authentic and embrace their uniqueness.”