Empowering event: Kamloops Y gives girls power

By Tanya Cronin
October 19, 2016 - 5:22pm

KAMLOOPS — It's a full-day conference for teen and pre-teen girls focusing on everything from self-esteem, healthy relationships, dating, discrimination, body image and bullying. 

The Power of Being a Girl program was held in Kamloops today. Run through the YM/YWCA the violence-prevention conference is aimed at changing the often negative image that girls have of themselves.

It also helps them feel valued, and encourages them view themselves for who they really are.

WATCH: Full report by Tanya Cronin

Barbie's exaggerated, plastic, and virtually impossible body proportions is where it all starts. And as girls grow up, airbrushed models in magazines is the image society often paints for what's acceptable.

"The messages they're getting is you have to fit in this box, you have to look a certain way, you have to talk a certain way, you have to do only a certain thing," says Michele Walker, General Manager, Kamloops 'Y' Women's Shelter.

Contradicting those messages and helping young girls see themselves for who they are, in whatever way they are comfortable, is the focus of the 11th annual 'Power of Being a Girl' Conference. The Kamloops YM/YWCA event at the Tournament Capital Centre, has attracted 135 girls ages 12 to 14.  

"It's really about allowing girls to see themselves and how powerful and strong they are in their lives, and that way they can start to make some really healthy choices for themselves." 

Developed by girls for girls, The Power of Being a Girl encourages teens and pre-teens to open up, ask questions and learn about themselves. Activites and workshops explore the challenges of growing up, everything from decision making in the face of social pressures, self awareness, body image and how to handle media influences.

"We have one called Media-Busting where they actually deconstruct a Barbie doll and take it apart and put molding back onto it, they can colour it, or change their clothes or cut their hair. So instead of having that image of what a girl is supposed to look like, they can change to whoever they want it to be," says Hope Mikal, Event Coordinator, The Power of Being a Girl Conference.

"Online you see things like everyone is worth stuff and all that jazz where it's really empowering, but on the inside you feel I'm different. Have self-confidence, realize that you're worth respect no matter who you are or what you do or anything like that," says 14-year old Mary Pinette.

"You can be whatever you want, you can wear black, you can be a girly girl and stuff like that," says 13-year old Kiara Lampreau.

The Power of Being a Girl is celebrated across the country. It's also a violence-prevention initiative, by providing an empowering and safe space where these young girls can feel valued.      

"We really want to let them know they can be who they are, they can look how they look, how they're made to look and that's okay, and they can do anything that they want," says Walker.

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