A Summer of Girl Power

This post was written by Grace Millar, Girl Programs Coordinator at the Women’s Centre.

“Girls are powerful.”

These are the words of Kailan, age 10, a participant in our Girl Power activism camp this summer for girls going into Grades five and six.

It’s been a wonderful summer for the Girl Programs at the Women’s Centre. In both Girl Power and Girl Force Summer Camps, the girl participants flexed their activism skills by using art as a way to spread awareness. We began the summer with our Girl Power Summer Camp, July 16-20, when we asked girls which issues mattered most to them, and how they would like to address these issues. Girl Power Summer Camp features an activism project, where girls identify an issue they care about, and answer the question “what can we do about it?” Girls in this year’s camp chose to focus their activism project on menstruation awareness, using the lived experiences of girls to inform the project they created.

Things came together quickly. Using pads and tampons, the girls decorated t-shirts with messages about the experiences of menstruation, which they displayed in the workshop space for women in the Centre to view. After setting up the t-shirts for all to see, girl participants led women on a tour explaining the art and speaking about the stigma and challenges young girls face around their periods. The participants created a safe space for open discussion and interactive learning for all. The menstruation t-shirt’s were a successful and fearless display of “craftivism,” (activism told through the creation of crafts) and we are excited to see more thought-provoking initiatives from the girls in the fall Girl Power After School program.

While girls in our Girl Power Summer Camp kept busy with their activism project, girls in our Girl Force Summer Camp worked on developing their leadership skills in other ways.

Our Girl Force Summer Camp, for girls going into Grades 7 – 9, was also a successful week, with discussions often focusing on mental health and healthy relationships. Girls talked about issues that matter to them, but also connected informally, with activities like yoga in the park, ice cream, and adventures around the neighbourhood.

On the final day of the camp, participants led a “music in the park,” where they set up a portable piano keyboard in Bridgeland and played music while engaging with the community. During the performance the girls gave out a self-made “Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships” resource guide, outlining key aspects the girls believe to be important in relationships.

Girls in both the Girl Power and Girl Force camps had opportunities to talk about, and learn from, women who are leaders in Calgary. The camps featured “Living Libraries” where women in the community came to talk about they work they do, and the things they are passionate. Girls learned from an incredible and diverse cross section of leaders, everyone from mental health advocates, to environmental leaders, to social media specialists.

Finally, it would be impossible not to recognize the amazing food that kept the girls happy and healthy throughout our amazing weeks! We had yummy food thanks to Boogies Burgers, Karma Fine Indian Cuisine and other local restaurant establishments. All in all, it was an incredible summer for Girl Force and Girl Power.

We look forward another round of camp in August, make sure to follow us on Instagram to stay up-to-date to see all the amazing things the Girl Programs are doing @girlsleadyyc.

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