“We do it for grade six girls primarily,” explains Director Danielle Armstrong, “so that before they get into the middle schools they have a little bit more in their toolbox to kind of assess and handle some of the situations that they’ll face during their middle school years.”
A group of 8 to 12 girls aged 11 to 13 meet once a week with two or three mentors, to learn about creating a balance between having a healthy mind and a healthy body. Through the incorporation of physical activities, they will learn lessons about self esteem, peer pressure, and assertiveness.
Armstrong maintains that it’s not about running a marathon of dieting; it’s about building a confident self-image.
“Obviously there’s different things that girls face than boys, so body image is a big factor,” she says. “Overall, everybody’s different, everybody brings their own uniqueness with them, but it’s just about having a balance and being confident in who you are.”
The first session for this school year will run for seven weeks from November to December, with several others planned for 2014. This year, the program is nearly solely funded by North Peace Savings and Credit Union, which recently contributed $15,000 to support the estimated 50 girls that will take part.
CEO Mitchel Chilcott says the credit union is happy to take some of the stress of funding off of BBBS so they can focus on the mentoring.
“As community leaders, North Peace Savings recognizes the evolution taking place within the communities it serves and the importance of building stronger families,” he stresses. “The Go-Girls! program will build the foundation that will guide the young women in their endeavours, building confident families, leading to a strengthened community.”
All that’s left for the program to get going is finding the mentors. Between the application and training process, and the sessions themselves, it’s about a 30 hour commitment from the women involved, which Armstrong believes is worth it for the end result on both sides.
“It’s really not a big commitment, and a lot of people don’t realize the impact of the program,” she says. “We’ve had a lot of volunteers come away from it and say, ‘I knew I was going to be giving something to them; I don’t know if they realize how much they’ve given to me.’”
Mentors only have to be enthusiastic and committed, and pass a criminal record check. For more information contact Big Brothers Big Sisters Fort St. John at 250.787.9674.