Project: Go Girls! Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds
Organization: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Newfoundland
A grant was made this year to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern NL. This grant was to expand their existing program “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds” to new schools and community groups. This is a group mentoring program that focuses on physical activity, balanced eating and self-esteem and promotes making healthy choices in all aspects of life. In addition, the program also provides friendship and support to youth between the ages of 10 and 13 years, who identify as girls.
The group participates in fun activities and discussions together with their mentors during regular weekly meetings that are built around thematic components such as healthy, active living, balanced eating and feeling good. During each weekly mentoring session, mentors and participants gather to explore what healthy, active living means and why it is important. The mentors lead participants in games and activities that underscore the importance of physical activity, and model good choices for the group. Through discussing important topics such empathy, kindness, communication, relationships, bullying and stress, group participants have the opportunity to learn from their mentors and each other. Go Girls! Provides an opportunity for girls to ask questions and express their feelings without judgment and to have their opinions heard and validated.
Some major outcomes hoped to be achieved through this project are for the youth to understand the meaning of a healthy happy lifestyle, to develop a desire to change their lifestyle to one that is active, and ultimately to become more confident about themselves and their ability to change their lives.
Program Update 2022:
Last year, we awarded one of our annual grants to The Boys and Girls Club’s Go Girls! Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds Group Mentoring Program.
Go Girls! is a group mentoring program for girls ages 10-13 that focuses on physical activity, balanced eating and self-esteem. The single, most important goal of the program is to positively shape the lives of young women and girls and youth who identify as female by helping them build a positive self-image – setting them on a path to reach their full potential in life.
Youth were matched with mentors, who acted as role models & champions of healthy,active living. With the funding from The Fig Fund, we served 102 young girls and matched 19 mentors in 7 programs. Funds allowed us to purchase weekly healthy snacks, provide program supplies that were used each week to help build confidence, to print program manuals and training documents and also support the enrolment and matching process for mentors.
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting school closures that began in March 2020, resulted in the Go Girls being suspended indefinitely. Fortunately, the agency was able to pivot to a virtual program. Being able to pivot and offer these programs during such a stressful and unprecedented year for youth was a great success. Topics such as self-care, mindfulness, eating healthy and the importance of physical activity, were welcomed by all participants.
Through evaluations, we have determined that the Go Girls had a tremendously positive impact on young girls:
“The program is a safe place. The mentors are really nice and I can trust them.”
“I love the activities and I get to try new foods. It also gives us a break in the school day to do a different and fun activity.”
“Go Girls is awesome! It gave me a chance to relax and get away from the everyday stress of school.”
“The Go Girl Program, however, done differently this year with COVID regulations, is a program that creates a safe space for all girls to be themselves, to openly demonstrate their strengths and weakness, to help them develop resilience, and to learn to treat others and themselves with respect and kindness. We love to celebrate our commonalities and our differences and we do this in a safe and caring environment.”
Jennifer Street Abbott, Guidance Counselor, East Point Elementary
“Effective and meaningful learning can be measured in a variety of ways, but sometimes, the learning and development of a child can be most readily seen in the level of engagement, the empathic nods and the knowing smiles that come with connection. This is the learning that happens in “Go Girls,” a program offered by Big Brothers Big Sisters. Students feel that the mentors truly care and want to help them realize their potential as they deal with life’s challenges. With a focus on healthy living, positive self-image, and how best we can care for ourselves, it’s a program that truly adds value to the often complicated lives of our youth. At our school, we are happy to work with this organization as they provide valuable lessons to our students, and would certainly encourage others to do likewise.”
– Dave Lynch, School Counselor, Roncalli Elementary
“The program successfully gave the girls an outlet for their feelings during the pandemic where they could interact with peers & mentors outside of typical classroom instruction. During a time of so much isolation & anxiety, we successfully offered the girls a safe place to talk about things that were important to them & equip them with the tools they need to survive stressful situations like the pandemic. Because the girls felt comfortable & trusted us mentors, they shared many personal experiences that not only helped them realize that they weren’t alone in their feelings, but also helped them bond with their fellow mentees. It was such a pleasure to watch one girl share a story & explain how she felt & see another girl’s eyes light up because she’s been through the same thing but thought she was alone in the experience.With this program, we have successfully fostered bonds between the participants at a deep level.”
“It is so rewarding to watch the girls complete the program after learning about healthy lifestyles and building confidence in their relationships, and know that they have acquired skills that will benefit them moving into adolescence. I have also learned so much in return from the girls’ curiosity and creativity! Mentoring the program is a phenomenal experience that I would recommend to anyone.”
Thank you all, for helping us support programs like these.