GIRLS program returns to help young women understand themselves

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By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Girls between the ages of 11 and 18 will have the opportunity to learn about themselves in a fun way starting next week. The Girls in Real Life Situations (GIRLS) program starts Apr. 9 and will run Tuesday evenings for the next seven weeks.

Rebecca Holland, who provides community resources for the Sturgeon School Division, is working with Morinville’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) to bring the program to Morinville youth once again. Holland said the program offers young women an opportunity to become more comfortable with who they are in a society that too often tells them they shouldn’t be.

Holland first ran the program in Morinville last fall. Success of that inaugural offering, combined with parental demand for another, lead to GIRLS returning for a winter session. With two successful programs already behind them, the spring session was an opportunity to continue the message that it is never a mistake to invest in our youth.

“I believe this group is important because they [the girls] own the program; it is something just for these young women,” Holland said. “This is unlike any other program offered within the county.”

The program addresses self-esteem and body image, something Holland feels are crucial topics for young women in the program’s 11 to 18 demographic. “The program really focuses on owning who you are,” Holland explained. “With society, friends, social media telling us what beauty is, it is crucial for young women to love themselves just as they are.”

Holland has said there is evidence to show young women struggle with eating disorders today largely because they do not look like their role models or as a result of competition among their peers to be liked.

GIRLS introduces participants to strong female role models and the positive attributes that make them strong women, strong mentors and strong community leaders. Once defined, the attributes are compared to those the young women themselves possess.

The GIRLS program starts Apr. 9 and runs each Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Morinville Public Elementary School. The program is open to youth throughout Sturgeon County. Cost is $45 per participant. Contact the Town of Morinville’s FCSS Department at 780-939-7841 for more information about the Morinville GIRLS program.

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