WATCH: A free mentorship program in Victoria is giving young girls the skills to face the future with confidence. Ceilidh Millar reports.
Keira has dealt with bullying her whole life.
?I?ve been bullied a lot since kindergarten.?
But the 11-year-old has found support through a free mentorship program for girls.
?When I come to Go Girls, I?m able to forget about that and have fun without being picked on.?
Go Girls is an after-school program for girls ages nine to 12, offered by Big Sisters of Victoria.
“It?s really around bringing girls together at a critical time in their development when they can see the power that they have by just being who they are? said Cindy Tomnuck of Big Brothers, Big Sisters Victoria.
Volunteer facilitators teach participants about self-esteem, engaging with others, physical activity and a healthy body image.
“We try to set them up with the right tools in their tool belt to go ahead into adolescence and really rock it,? explained coordinator Taylor Watson. ?I wish I had this program when I was young.?
More than 30 girls have participated in the program since 2016, which is held at a storefront space donated by Uptown.
?We?ve been granted this space which we’ve been using for the last year to run our Go Girls group” said Tomnuck about the space now known as the “Go Girls Lounge.”
?I actually saw the ad come across one of the mom sites on Facebook,” explained Jennifer Mulholland, a parent of a participant. “What first got me was the part about self-esteem. Now, her self-esteem is a whole lot better.?
The organization has decided to expand their Go Girls program to help even more girls feel proud of who they are.
“It’s a whole lot of fun here,” said 12-year-old Jayda. ?People don?t judge you for what you?re going to say or who you?re going to be.?
“It’s fun to go to because there is only girls here so that?s fun,? explained 11-year-old Hannah.
For Keira, the program has had a profound impact.
“If you?re having a bad day, it feels really nice to go there and talk to them because no matter what they will support you.?
Registration is being accepted for a 5-week session that will run on Thursday evenings until the end of April 2017.
For more information, visit Go Girls! Group Mentoring.