Girl power

Summer camp defines itself by its programme for young females

Like all summer camps, the one being hosted by I Am A Girl Barbados is an opportunity to keep its participants occupied during the long school holiday. But this camp sets itself apart by offering programmes aimed specifically at helping young girls cope with the myriad issues affecting them and their peers, and also to realize their full potential.

Participants of Generation Y Summer camp, hosted by I AM A Girl Barbados engaged in robust discussion. (Photo courtesy I Am A Girl Barbados).

The summer camp, which is being held at the Derrick Smith School and Vocational Centre in Jackmans, St Michael, is the final event on the community’s annual programme, dubbed Generation Y, which runs throughout the academic year.

“The entire theme for the summer camp this year is Survive to Thrive, which focuses on mental health and challenges in regard to that. We’re looking at leadership versus title, and how  . . . you [can] be a leader in your own right within your community,” founder Alian Olivierre told Barbados TODAY.

“We are also focusing on different forms of violence and how that affects the girls, but not only that, [but] different careers built around those particular areas and how maybe they can understand what is necessary from different fields. We’ve also focused on holistic living. So how do you become a better you through your health, not only mental but physical and emotional health.”

I am a Girl Barbados has been working with 150 girls between the ages of five and 18 since it was established nearly three years ago. Its core areas of focus are mentorship, capacity building, community development and advocacy for the girls.

“Overall we create a safe space for the girls; so a space in anything that we do or any activity that we do to ensure that the girls have the support and mentorship they need; raise their awareness and build their capacity, but in addition to that, build a community within a community so to speak.

“So there are peer leaders who some of the girls can look up to. So as they elevate throughout the programme they get more of a leadership responsibility; they build their skills in that way in terms of public speaking and understanding how to also deal with mentees who are younger . . . so they have a very important role in terms of the programmes that we do and who we seek out.  They’re able to lend their ear as to what they know girls are going through and who they think they would want to speak to or engage with,” she added.

Olivierre was inspired to establish the community after discovering there was a lack of such resources for young girls here.

“I always mentored youth, and … working in the UN [United Nations] space … I recognized that there are loads of projects happening globally, however nothing like that was happening in Barbados, and I felt like it was necessary to have it here.

“It started as an event where the girls could have a platform to speak and share on the international day of the girl child, but then for me it turned into something more formal,” she said.

Looking beyond the community’s annual programme, she disclosed that the community would like to set up its own home within the next few years “where any girl in Barbados has a space where they can come to learn more about how to transition into adulthood [because] the basic things that seem obvious to us as adults are not as obvious to them who have the challenges of poverty, who have the challenges of abandonment and displacement.”  

Source: (MCW)

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