Girlz keep coming back to the GWRC

An update on Girlz Group

Sarah Wegelin

Special Projects Co-ordinator

Golden Women’s Resource Centre

Since 2006, The Golden Women’s Resource Centre’s (GWRC) Girlz Group Program has served over 150 girls, with many returning season after season to participate in group discussions, activities, and projects based on a theme.

Each season a theme is decided by program co-ordinators Linley Mclean, Executive Director and Outreach Co-ordinator, and Sarah Wegelin Special Projects Co-ordinator to help develop the program. “This past summer we relaxed the program a bit with the theme “Girlz Group Rocks!”,  Wegelin said.

“We created the program based on the participants’ favourite activities from seasons past. This included making/sewing purses, a talent show, games and activities based on self-care and safety in the park, a visit to Bill Pitcher at Legacy of Light Studio. Discussions included: confidence, preparing for high school, relationships, and answering questions in the question box which can be anything from questions about puberty to relationships to pop culture.”

The Girlz Group Program focuses on raising awareness on issues through a variety of topics, themes and projects in order to build resilience, confidence, increase self-esteem, empower, and encourage healthy decision making in girls in grades 5-9. It is a program that provides the girls with a safe place to ask questions, both during each session and anonymously through the Girlz Group question box. The girls receive honest and professional information, and have a voice in the direction of the program planning while being exposed to positive role models.

“It gives the girls a space to simply be themselves. Girlz Group can get goofy, it can be serious, it can be calm, it can be energetic and all of this is directed by the girls. We have enjoyed watching the girls coming into their own and expressing themselves.” McLean said.

The program brings the girls to the GWRC every season for six weeks to discuss issues, do fun projects and activities, volunteer and connect with their community and build lasting relationships with each other as well as the GWRC.

“The question box inspires some of our more serious discussions with the girls and as we answer each question as a group, some really important discussions happen and if some of the girls feel nervous about certain things, it gives them an opportunity to talk about it and realize that there are others who are feeling the same way. It also gives us an opportunity to clarify any misinformation or assumptions on certain facts of life,” explained Wegelin.

“The girls have said they love the question box, and learn a lot from it and are so thankful it’s there. A couple of girls said that some of the questions get them thinking and learning about things they never really thought about before… one girl said she couldn’t imagine her life without the question box. It really gives us an idea of where the girls are at in their lives and touches on some issues they are experiencing,” says Wegelin.

So what does bring the girls back to the program for more? Here’s what a few of the participants said (names are withheld in respect of confidentiality):

“All the cool stuff we get to do, like wear a tail if we want to.”

“I feel like I can be more like myself in Girlz Group.”

“I have more self-esteem and confidence. I’ve learned it’s better to be myself than not to be.”

“Get to meet other people. I don’t feel judged in the group. We share different opinions. Everyone respects each other. I think this is (the GWRC) a magical building of respect.”

“I feel very comfortable – I get picked on at home, at school, but here everyone respects each other.” “The other girls inspire me because someone else wrote the question (in the question box), and even though they didn’t put their names, I think about things I’ve never thought before.”

“Going to the Sikh Temple (an activity held in spring 2009) I learned traditions, and henna, it blew me away.”

“I never knew some of the girls before; I’ve made new friends.”

“I’ve learned good ways to feel about myself.”

The Fall 2011 program will bring girls to celebrate their equal rights and freedoms, with the theme, “Yes We Can!” inspired by upcoming events: Take Back the Night and Women’s History Month (October).

“During the fall session many activities that give the girls an opportunity to raise their voice, create their own heroine, and honour local heroines are planned, as well as special guests and a community volunteer activity” Wegelin said.

The Fall 2011 Girlz Group program will begin during the week of September 12th.

Registration will be held from September 5 – 9, during business hours at the centre, or at the Non-Profit Connection and Community Registration Night on September 7, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. at the Mount 7 Rec Plex.

Participants can pick up a registration form at the centre. Space is minimal. A $15 registration fee applies. For more information contact Sarah or Linley at 250-344-5317 or check us out online at: www.goldenwomencentre.ca

This program is funded by the Vancouver Foundation.