Provide an open and safe environment for any youth in care from ages 12 to 18, that empowers individuals who identify as female to learn with and from each other about their rights, share experiences, and discuss matters, important to them.
Food and beverages are provided!
Girl’s Group October, 5 to November, 23 2016 (8 weeks)
Victoria Abadillos and Sarah Rowntree
I was lucky enough to have a chance to co-facilitate an 8 week event with our social work practicum student, for youth in and from care, ages 12-18 who identify as female. During the 8 weeks we touched on a variety of topics that were meant to engage, equip and empower these young females. We had an amazing turn out, as there were 8 girls who attended regularly. Some of the activities we held were a craft night, a pumpkin carving night, movie night, we went to the millennium library to find books about females who dominated their field of choice, or just strong female leadership in general. Every activity had an underlying message within.
How does this tie into being in care? Craft night included painting memory boxes that the youth were free to add pictures that made them feel happy. The message that night was to encourage remembering that being in care isn’t always bad, even though sometimes it can feel that way. Pumpkin carving was tied into youth sometimes missing the whole point of Halloween. Where did this tradition come from, and what does it all mean? Sometimes those tales get lost in the transiency of being in the child welfare system. I couldn’t help but notice how quickly these young women bonded, no matter their history, their skin colour, their sexual orientation or any other identifying characteristic for that matter. Because they were all in care, they bonded quite quickly on that similarity alone.
For our last Girl’s Group event, we held a Christmas party for them, and Victoria, practicum student and primary facilitator, asked the girls to give symbolic gifts to one another in a circle. There were 2 young ladies who had only attended a couple of events, and there was no hostility towards the newcomers at all whatsoever. They continued to awe me in their unbiased welcoming to the new girls. I remember sitting there and thinking that this group of girls were so incredible, and I was so blessed to be able to be a part of it. Foster kids recognize foster kids, and there is no other group of kids that will be the same as putting a group of foster kids together. We know the system is hard, and we don’t want to make lives any more difficult than they already are. I believe that if there had been something like this available to me while I was in care, things may have been different. Being transient, you don’t necessarily have that strong female role model that you would have had if you experienced permanency. Girl’s Group offered that in a way that peers are that to each other, and Voices provided a safe place with safe adults to help make it safe and healthy for our young ladies to get that support.