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Program encourages Girls to give it a Go

The GoGirls program links girls in grades 6-8 with mentors who can provide them with valuable guidance to living better lives. Sessions begin Oct. 23 at the Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira.

Whether you’re a girl in need of a new friend or just someone to hear you out, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region (BBBSWR) is offering a seven-week GoGirls mentoring program at the Woolwich Memorial Centre for girls in grades 6 to 8. The sessions aim to provide girls with a path to leading a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

The initiative is lead by two mentors through the BBBSWR program that focuses on creating a safe space for girls to learn more about healthy eating, active living, and a variety of topics that stem from efforts to improve mental health.

“We’re catching them right before they go off to high school, I think that this is a really good time  –  the girls are really receptive to the message,” said program coordinator Amy Murrin.

With an emphasis on a healthy life, the 90-minute sessions will explore different ice-breaker activities and arts and crafts that will help the girls understand themselves more as well as develop new friendships with their peers, said Murrin, pointing to such past activities as having the girls reflect on who they are through a craft project.

“They get to make a collage about themselves – how they present on the outside and things that other people can’t physically see about them,” Murrin explained of some of the projects that the girls take part in during the seven weeks.

The mentors of the GoGirls sessions lead several discussions that allows the participants to discuss things they are going through or their classmates are going through and this helps boost self confidence and develop social skills, according to Murrin. Aside from activities and discussions each week the mentors will provide snacks to the group so they can also learn about healthy eating but also participate in it as well.

In the wake of the social media era, the program is still working on adapting to a more updated itinerary that focuses on these issues that stem from online activity. For now, BBBSWR has partnered up with Telus to deliver a workshop to the girls that teaches them about social media and internet safety, explained Murrin.

“We find that the culture with kids has really changed so we’re trying to adapt the program as much as we can so that we can address those things because that’s part of their day-to-day life.”

Opening up a space to discuss these topics and ideas for girls this age has seen a lot of success over the past 10 years that the GoGirls program has been active, says Murrin. Many of the previous participants report on increased self-esteem, increased knowledge of healthy eating and make new friendships that are outside of school.

“It’s a great opportunity for kids to meet people outside of their immediate community and I’ve seen really awesome friendships grow from that too,” she said.

The sessions will begin on October 23 and will run until December 4 at the Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira. Anyone who is interested is asked to contact the WMC to sign up, as the program is run directly through the facility. There is no deadline to sign up, but there are only 12 spots available. More information can be found online or by calling 519-745-0180.

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