Girl in Park

This is the fifth post in the Confidence Stories series in partnership with Always®. Confidence Stories features stories, tips and ideas to support girls, build their confidence and encourage them to Keep Playing #LikeAGirl.

Through the support of generous donors like Always, we are able help more than 1,000 girls in 44 communities to participate in programs that engage their bodies, minds and spirits.

Vanessa and I are in craft room 2 at Guildford Recreation Centre. We have our Girls Got Game sign on the door so that parents know which room we are in today. There are snacks, table activities and small classroom games ready for the girls, and as they enter the room, we hear laughter, chit-chat, and questions about what we are going to do today, as well as what snacks we’ll be having!

Girls Got Game is an after-school program for newcomer and immigrant girls ages 9 to 13.

The program offers recreation and group activities to help girls become physically active, build their confidence and community, instill resilience, and inspire lifelong participation in sport and play.  

On top of the pressures and struggles that girls already face, newcomer and immigrant girls face other unique challenges: they have to adapt to new cultural, language, and academic expectations, and they are more likely to face discrimination and exclusion.

That’s why programs like Girls Got Game are so essential. When girls have confidence, connectedness and critical thinking skills, they are less likely to be mistreated or exploited, they are better able to make healthy decisions, and they have the tools to deal with problems they’ll face in their teen years.   

“When I first came to Girls Got Game, I was scared and shy at first, but then after I knew everyone else, I saw everyone was so welcoming and nice. Girls Got Game inspired me to try a lot of new things, like try out some new sports and games that I never knew about.”
– Hajir, 12

Sport is a universal activity: anyone can participate regardless of their language, gender, race, or religion. We notice that in our program, girls start out shy and timid in the classroom but through physical activity and play, they open up, break out of their shells, and make friends faster. They also pick up the language, become more comfortable and confident, and more vocal and expressive about their feelings.

"When someone says stuff like 'You fight like a girl' and stuff like that, we don’t have to be ashamed of that because we are girls. What they were talking about is that you should always be yourself no matter what. What I feel about the movie (Always #LikeAGirl ) is that I felt happiness
when you always be yourself.”
– Fani, 13

We have been with our current group of girls for a month. One participant, Palik, came to Canada from Syria 2 months before she joined us. She was extremely shy and couldn’t speak English very well, so she was not confident sharing her name or what she enjoyed doing. The workshop portion was a little overwhelming for her and she seemed a little worried. We took the girls to the gym and played some ice-breaker games and, by the end of the first day, we noticed she was having a great time and enjoying playing with the other girls.

The next week rolled around and we saw Palik walk towards our room with the biggest smile on her face. She sat in between two girls she played with the previous week and, to our surprise, when it came to the sharing portion, she spoke, even though she wasn’t as confident speaking in English. We are only four weeks in, but Palik is already making good connections and the other girls have welcomed her without viewing her level of English as a barrier.

This is what Girls Got Game is all about.

Ten minutes before the end of the program, we get together in a circle to reflect on the day and write in our journals about what we liked, what we didn’t like, what we learned, and personal questions the girls may have that they were too shy to ask about in a group. As parents start to arrive, the girls pack up their belongings and say goodbye to one another. Vanessa and I tidy up the room, and take our sign off the door, until next week…

Girls Got Game, in Surrey, British Columbia, is funded by the Canadian Women’s Foundation, and delivered by Options Community Services Society in partnership with the City of Surrey.

For additional tools and resources to help girls stay confident, download the confidence toolkit from Always. 

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