Back to School 2023

Girls and gender-diverse young people are struggling with emotional and physical well-being, connection, belonging, confidence, healthy relationships, and optimism for their futures.

There is a growing mental health crisis among young people, but increased demand and under-funding has made resources even scarcer.

Community programs funded through the Canadian Women’s Foundation provide the safe, supportive environment young people need now. Your donation can help ensure these programs continue to be available to everyone who requires them.

Triple Your Impact

H&M will triple all donations made by September 30th, up to a total of $10,000!

Your gift will go directly to programs that:

  • Bolster mental health, emotional wellbeing, and confidence
  • Teach young people about healthy relationships and consent
  • Provide cultural and community connection
  • Offer mentorship
  • Provide engagement and exploration in areas like art, STEM, sport, physical activity, and community leadership
  • Provide positive, inclusive spaces where girls and gender-diverse young people can thrive 

Know a girl or gender-diverse young person who needs support?

These resources may help.

You can also look for other resources in your community at or by checking the website of your municipality or community centre.

Kids Help Phone

We Matter: Toolkit for Indigenous Youth

Canadian Mental Health Association

Anxiety Canada 

Mental Health Literacy 

Children’s Mental Health Ontario 

If a young person you know is in crisis/talks about suicide:

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line: 1-855-242-3310

If you think someone’s life is in immediate danger, call 911 or go to the emergency department.

“I feel like I do not need to hide who I am.”

Program Participant

20 – 25% of young people have at least one mental health disorder.


“The best part of my day was being here.”

Program participant

Only 1 in 5 young people get mental health treatment.


“I can really be myself here, it made my day better to come to this program.”

Program Participant

Children and youth who are recent immigrants or refugees, racialized, and/or who live in rural or remote communities are even less likely to receive appropriate mental health care.


I’d like to thank everyone who made this program possible. It can feel so difficult to find non-binary BIPOC community and self-love but this program has made both possible and I am eternally grateful.”

Program Participant

Two-thirds of parents polled in 2021 reported that their child’s mental health had worsened and 48% reported their child was experiencing new mental health challenges since 2020.


“This is a fun, safe place to talk if you need somebody to talk to.”

Program Participant

Students with mental health challenges and disabilities are often the victim of bullying


“I would participate in this program again if I could. I feel safe and seen and there are not a lot of spaces in the city by and for us.”

Program participant, Your Content Goes Here

Sexually and gender-diverse young people were more likely to experience bullying in the past year (77%), and as a result, also more likely to self-report poor mental health (33%). 


“I dont feel judged or ashamed of who I am and of my opinions … I dont feel afraid or insecure in this community.” 

Program participant

The wait for treatment of mental health issues is one year and more.


“You were surrounded by a community of people who both shared and understood your struggle but also experienced it in diverse ways. … Lots of space to hear and be heard.” 

Program participant

“Sometimes I feel alone and all by myself but at the girls program I feel happy and supported.” 

Program participant

“I can just talk about my day and the people around me will understand and not judge me and I can just be myself and share my opinions on things.” 

Program participant

Listen to the podcast

Discover the back to school mental health series on Alright, Now What?

Episode 1 : Back-to-School, Interrupted

How can caring adults in the lives of girls and young people smooth the transition back to school, whether they be a parent, guardian, teacher, coach, auntie, uncle, or neighbour? How can we support improved youth mental health, confidence, and healthy relationships? 

Taylor Meissner joins us to talk about it. She’s a Registered Social Worker with a Master of Social Work from the University of Toronto. She’s also a Disabilities Coordinator and Learning Strategist at Carleton University. She provides counselling in private practice at Intersections Collective, mainly working with 2SLGBTQ+ youth and adults

Episode 2 : Back-to-School, Interrupted (Part 2)

Young people in Canada aged 12 to 17 say their mental health has declined since 2015, and the decline is more pronounced amongst young women. On top of that, children and youth who are recent immigrants or refugees, racialized, or in rural and remote communities are less likely to get appropriate mental health care.

Dr. Stacey Bélanger, pediatrician at CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montréal and Mental Health Task Force member at the Canadian Pediatric Society, discusses what we can do as families, as educators, and as professionals.

Other relevant episodes:
Supporting Gender Diversity – May 3, 2023
First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Youth – September 7, 2022
Ending Sexual Violence on Campus – November 30, 2022
Girls, Rape Culture and Colonialism – August 24, 2022

Your Impact

Check out some of the incredible programs for girls and gender-diverse young people you support all over Canada. 

Image of girls in a circle with arms around each other

Circles of Care, Circles of Courage
CMHA – Cowichan Valley & Malahat First Nation
Duncan, British Columbia

Circles of Care – Circles of Courage in Malahat Nation on Vancouver Island incorporates traditional Coast Salish teachings to provide girls with tools and resources to face challenges. Sessions may focus on knitting and weaving, or learning about traditional plant identification.
Logo from Girls Can Mini University Program

Girls Can … Mini University

Brandon University
Brandon, Manitoba

Girls Can … engages girls in science through interactive, fun, and non-judgmental activities. Projects include programming robots, 3D printing, cooking, digital music, media literacy, floor hockey, and equine-assisted learning and more – all with a science twist.
Terrace GRIT girls' program logo

Terrace GRIT Program
Terrace Women’s Resource Centre
Terrace, British Columbia

The GRIT program uses a strengths-based approach to encourage participants to become future leaders. Girls learn and practice intercultural understanding and conflict resolution while celebrating inclusion. Activities empower girls to know themselves and trust their voices.
SADI Girls Mentorship logo

SADI Girls’ Group Mentorship
Survivor’s Hope
Pinawa, Manitoba

SADI Girls’ Group Mentorship trains high-school mentors in two rural communities to lead empowering and accessible programming for Grade 6 students. Discussions and activities focus on respect, self and community care, leadership, and healthy relationships, and invite students to shape activities based on their needs and interests.
Group of girls standing behind a table with table of refreshments and signs saying "self-love"

Girl Power, Girl Force

Calgary Women’s Centre
Calgary, Alberta

Girl Power, Girl Force creates spaces for girls to build a sense of community, explore issues in their lives, foster activism, and develop leadership skills.
Image of heart made by sparkler against dark sky

Samson Community Wellness
Maskwacis, Alberta

Okinikiskwew offers participants a culturally-sensitive space to explore the issues they’re facing, and helps them to develop positive gender and cultural identities. Participants also have the opportunity to learn healthy coping mechanisms and leadership skills while connecting with strong role models.

DiverseCity Community Resources Logo

Power Girls: A Migrant Girls STEM Project
DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society
Surrey, British Columbia

Designed specifically for racialized girls who have migrant experiences, Power Girls encourages participants to shape and lead programming according to their needs and interests. Participants develop empowering skills in critical thinking, creativity, organization, problem-solving, and teamwork.
Image of Huu ay aht First Nation symbol on beach

Huu ay aht First Nation
Port Alberni, British Columbia

ƛiƛič̓ałukwit̓asin – we will be steering our canoe in the right direction – helps girls develop meaningful relationships with themselves and others, and strengthen their cultural identities. It also offers strategies to manage mental health and relationship issues, intimate partner violence, self-harm, and substance use.

Two girls writing on blackboard

Girls Count, SuperNOVA

Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Girls Count builds critical mathematics skills that promote confidence and literacy in areas such as physics, engineering, and finance. Through team-based activities, skill-building workshops, individual problem solving, mentorship and guest presentations, participants are exposed to fun, hands-on experiences in mathematics as they consider their future academic and professional career paths.
Closeup of hands making a dreamcatcher

Intergenerational Girls Empowerment
First Light (St. John’s Native Friendship Centre)
St. John’s, Newfoundland

Intergenerational Girls Empowerment in St. John’s, NL connects participants with community Elders and seniors to mentor them in Indigenous traditions, ways of learning, and healing.
ElevateHER logo

Girls Code
East Mountain, Nova Scotia

This program offers a supportive and confidence-building environment, where girls, trans, genderqueer, gender non-binary, and Two-Spirit participants connect with teen mentors, and develop independence and identity as they build healthy relationships.
Self-care products on table

Strong Girls Strong North Girls Club
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

The Strong Girls Strong North Girls Club provides inclusive, youth-led, and culturally appropriate programming that helps girls to better understand violence and its root causes. Programming empowers young women to build self-esteem and make healthy choices, while fostering their leadership potential.
Aboriginal People’s Alliance of Northern Ontario Logo

Aboriginal People’s Alliance of Northern Ontario
Cochrane, Ontario

Tipihew (She Has Equal Capabilities) helps participants overcome barriers related to living in a northern region, and supports them in becoming more engaged at school, in sports, and in their community. Girls also have a mentor (older youth or young adult) throughout the program, who can share their own experiences, coping strategies, and leadership skills
Group of girls at lookout point

RISE Empowerment
Community Resource Centre (Killaloe) Inc.
Killaloe, Ontario

RISE Empowerment provides rural girls, trans and non-binary youth opportunities to connect, express themselves creatively, learn their rights, build healthy habits, and leadership skills. It offers an environment that helps girls to make friends, build skills, develop their voices, and lead community change.
Hands in shape of heart

Speak Up Program: Girls’ Group
Community Arts and Heritage Education Project
Thunder Bay, Ontario

Speak Up Girls’ Group brings professional artists together with girls and girl-identified participants for projects involving art, storytelling, music, song, theatre and dance. Through these activities, participants will look at what it means to be a girl and how girls can help bring about social change.
HERD Zine League Logo

HERd Zine League
LUSO Community Services
London, Ontario

HERd Zine League builds participants’ media literacy skills, encouraging them to think critically about how commercial media promotes gender stereotypes. Girls also learn how to use zines and other media to promote positive, empowering images and messages. Participants use their own talents – writing, drawing, collage, and poetry – to produce zines to be distributed as a form of community action.
Girls sitting on log in forest

Le Centre filles mobile

YWCA Québec
Québec, QC

The Mobile Girls Centre is for and by the participants, collaboratively deciding on goals, projects, and themes. Through these activities, participants will explore their identities, develop confidence, leadership, self-confidence, critical thinking, and sense of belonging.

Nous aussi on peut le faire
L’Oasis des enfants de Rosemont
Montréal, QC

Through discussions and activities, Nous aussi on peut le faire helps participants build a strong sense of community and confidence, as well as strengthening their own potential to face challenges and achieve their goals.
Group of girls

Girls Without Barriers
DisAbled Women’s Network DAWN
Montréal, QC

Girls without Barriers encourages girl-serving organizations to examine and address the underlying causes and consequences of ableism/audism and their intersection with other systems of oppression. Through focus groups and research, the program is developing tools and resources on ableism, and how it intersects with other systems of oppression.
Young woman holding camera

Healthy Relationships for Trans, 2-Spirit, Non-binary, and Gender Nonconforming Youth
Centre for Sexuality
Calgary, Alberta

Healthy Relationships for Trans, 2-Spirit, Non-binary, and Gender Nonconforming Youth creates a safe and welcoming space for participants to explore their identities, experience belonging and acceptance, and develop healthy relationship skills.
The Pas Family Resource Centre Logo

We Know Our Worth
The Pas Family Resource Centre
The Pas, Manitoba

We Know Our Worth helps young people establish clear boundaries, develop mutual respect, maintain individual identity, enhance communication skills, and have a better understanding of gender, identity, sexual orientation, self-expression and personal safety.
Teenagers standing outside

Healthy Futures

Second Stage Safe Haven
Saint John, New Brunswick

Healthy Futures provides educators, guidance counsellors and facilitators in middle schools with training and resources and delivers healthy relationship programming to rural and urban students. The project also trains high-school facilitators working with vulnerable young people, and youth who identify as 2SLGBTQ+.
Teen healthy relationships workshop

The Ins and Outs of Healthy Relationships
Newfoundland & Labrador Sexual Health Centre
St. John’s, Newfoundland

The Ins and Outs of Healthy Relationships empowers young people to understand healthy relationships (romantic, platonic, familial, and professional) and develop strategies to improve or end unhealthy relationships.
Planned parenthood non-binary bipoc drop-in

Non-Binary BIPOC Drop-In
Planned Parenthood of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario

The Non-Binary BIPOC Drop-In is a weekly group for teens who identify as non-binary Black, Indigenous, or people of colour. Through discussions and activities facilitated by staff and peer facilitators, participants explore the intersections of their identities, build community, and gain confidence.
Grande Prairie Friendship Centre Logo

Grande Prairie Friendship Centre
Grande Prairie, Alberta

Pitone empowers young people to lead and care for their peers through culturally based exploration of healthy relationships. Elders and Knowledge Keepers provide cultural guidance, lead ceremonies, and provide individual support for young people and facilitators. This program is inclusive of all gender expressions and is led by youth, for youth.
Victoria Native Friendship Centre logo

Youth Warrior Program
Victoria Native Friendship Centre
Victoria, British Columbia

The Youth Warrior Program for Indigenous children aged 6-14 who have witnessed violence at home and/or at school. It aims to help develop understanding of self-esteem, setting boundaries, anti-violence strategies, cyber-bullying, land-based learning, and storytelling. It ends with a “coming-of-age” cultural ceremony steeped in traditional teachings with Elders. The program supports children’s recovery from inter-generational trauma, and provides cultural supports and practical skills to support them into adulthood.
Youth Program banner for Upstanders Against Violence

UPstanders Against Violence
Prince George Sexual Assault Centre
Prince George, British Columbia

UPstanders Against Violence is a youth-driven program that brings together community expertise and school supports. It is designed to increase knowledge, awareness, capacity, and resilience, while reducing the risk of violence.
Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre Logo

Positive Adolescent Sexuality Support (PASS)
Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre
Headingley, Manitoba

PASS support Indigenous young people and fosters healthy relationships and sexuality in a culturally relevant, safe, and supportive learning environment. Peer-based programming focuses on education and life skills for the mind, spirituality and culture for the spirit, awareness and prevention for the body, and support for emotions. Workshops are youth-driven and include healthy relationships, teen dating violence, birth-control methods, STD/STI awareness, self-esteem, and more.
Amelia Rising logo

Empowered Youth
Amelia Rising Sexual Assault Centre of Nipissing
North Bay, Ontario

Empowered Youth explores healthy relationships (with intimate partners, family, friends, community, and self) through education, counselling, and a support group. It also seeks to address the gap in local services for those who identify as 2SLGBTQ+, and who may be facing isolation and/or abuse.
Empower and Allyship Camp image

Em(Power) and Allyship
Sexual Assault Centre of Waterloo Region
Kitchener, Ontario

Teens in this program address and explore the root causes of gender-based violence, including power and privilege, toxic masculinity, racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, and ableism. They also learn about allyship and bystander interventions so they know how to respond to harmful behaviours.
Black Women in Motion Logo

Black Peer Education Network
Black Women in Motion
Toronto, Ontario

The Black Peer Education Network provides healthy and safe learning spaces for Black young people to dismantle and challenge rape culture and sexual violence within the Black community.

Boys and Girls Club of Summerside
Summerside, Prince Edward Island

At Connect2Protect every session begins with a home-cooked meal. In this caring, inclusive environment, young people of all gender identities and backgrounds are guided through explorations of topics crucial to their development, including identity, consent, and healthy relationships.
Bureau de la Communaute Haitienne logo

Respect sans frontiers
Bureau de la Communauté Haïtienne de Montréal
Montréal, Quebec

Respect sans frontier unites teens around common goals, and promotes collaboration, resilience, critical thinking, and leadership. With the support of facilitators, participants launch their own awareness campaigns on cyber violence and hypersexualization and use social media to spread the word.
S.A.R.A.H Sexplique logo

S.A.R.A.H – les bases d’une relation saine
Québec, QC

S.A.R.A.H – les bases d’une relation saine helps young people develop healthy relationships, through interactive workshops on many topics including consent, sexuality, and self-esteem.