Lise Watier: This is Me!
Girls Program

The homeless girls who come to our doors need compassionate, specialized care to recover from the trauma they have experienced at home or on the street. Lise Watier: This is Me! Girls Program offers our girls life skills workshops, a discussion group, female mentors and special outings. Our attractive girls lounge provides an inviting, safe space to participate in special programming.

Girls whose journeys have included homelessness are far more likely to have already experienced sexual abuse at home, abusive relationships and human trafficking.

On the street, homeless girls are 10 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than girls with stable housing. A Toronto study showed about 23 percent of homeless girls reported having traded sex for food. They are more likely to have serious mental health issues like eating disorders, addiction or self-harm, often as a result of their experiences at home or on the street. Many of them have also had an unplanned pregnancy. They often have had few, if any, positive female role models.

Our girls are highly vulnerable to a life of continued suffering, but they also have tremendous resilience and potential. Lise Watier: This is Me! Girls Program allows us to offer additional support to our girls. When they come to us, they are at a crossroads. We strive to light the way towards a life with a future. Our girls, staff and mentors form a diverse community that provides the unconditional love and support that our girls need to thrive and grow.

Program Development

Lise Watier: This is Me! program sponsored by the Lise Watier Foundation and developed in collaboration with the girls at Covenant House. In a focus group, girls spoke of feeling alone and in need of positive female relationships. They also spoke of wanting the opportunity to follow their dreams, gain independence and develop a fulfilling career.

The program, which serves girls in our crisis shelter and longer-term residence, aims to foster self-confidence, offer life skills and provide role modelling through workshops conducted by female community and business leaders. The workshops and outings provide our girls with varied life skills such as self-esteem, meditation, career building, finance and household repairs.

The girls program was designed using our Resiliency Model to develop the “Seven Cs” (Confidence, Competence, Connection, Character, Contribution, Coping, Control). The discussion groups, counselling and mentorship help our girls to find solace and begin to heal. The workshops explore themes of personal power and help young women to recognize the value of their contributions and community.

Girls in the program will be given opportunities to develop new ways of coping with stress and to gain greater self-esteem and competence in a number of life skills. They will also be introduced to new communication approaches and spend time understanding their sense of character through introspection.

Core Elements

The program is founded on eight core elements:

  1. Basic necessities – All girls are provided with food, clothing, shelter and access to our on-site health care clinic and medical professionals.

  2. Female-focused programming – Workshops will have a specific purpose to build the girls’ sense of connection, confidence, communication, competence, character, coping or control. Girls will have the opportunity to participate in two workshops every month, such as Self-Esteem & Actualization or Political & Social Activism.

  3. Mentorship – Each girl will be connected with at least one strong, female role model and mentor. Our current and past graduates will help to fill some of these roles.

  4. One-on-one counselling – The girls will connect individually with their youth worker as well as the This is Me! program coordinator.

  5. Monthly reflection meetings – Informal discussions will be held monthly to talk about things that are important and relevant to the girls.

  6. Safe girls’ space – The new program lounge will provide girls a safe space for workshops, counselling and meetings.

  7. Special outings – These outings are opportunities for girls to build relationships with their peers in a relaxed environment. This could include volunteer days and trips to special events.

  8. Physical fitness – Girls will have the opportunity to participate in weekly organized sports and classes such as self-defence. 

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