It’s the portrait Christmas cards that the girls are looking forward to the most this season. There will be a photo shoot and the portraits will be used to create cards. The girls will get two—one to keep and one to give to whomever they choose. It’s just one of the activities planned to make them feel special.
Most of our girls did not grow up in loving homes, so gestures of generosity and friendship can offer a profound lesson in what it means to be valued. It also helps adjust our girls to spending Christmas at a shelter away from any family.
Our Lise Watier: This is Me! Girls Program, which launched last month, has kicked off the Christmas season with a number of special outings, activities and workshops for our girls to bond, grow and celebrate.
The new program has been embraced by the young women at Covenant House who appreciate the opportunity to connect in a safe, female-focused environment. They love the newly completed girls lounge, an attractive and comfortable space for them to attend workshops designed around their needs and interests.
A few days ago, the girls attended the Cavalcade of Lights, the tree lighting ceremony and concert at Toronto City Hall. The outing was an exciting opportunity for the girls to bond. They will also be getting together shortly to decorate the lounge and bake gingerbread.
In the last month, we have already hosted a number of workshops by community members, as well as our own program staff. The self-defense workshop was especially fun and popular for the girls. Next week, the girls will learn how to budget over the Christmas season.
We began the girls program because we found that the homeless girls who came to us needed specialized care to recover from the trauma they have experienced at home or on the street. Girls whose journeys have included homelessness are far more likely to have already experienced sexual abuse at home, abusive relationships and human trafficking.
Many of the girls participating in the program have already expressed how much the group means to them. Marie-Claude, who just landed a job at a high-end chocolate retail store and secured independent housing, loves the workshops we have offered on self-esteem and empowerment. She appreciates the discussions and enjoys being a mentor to some of the other girls.
Dayna struggles with severe psychosis and has a deeply traumatic history. She is very creative and while she now has trouble communicating verbally, she feels safe to express herself through art in the comfort of the girls lounge.
Tawnya left home because her relationship with her mom was unstable. She recently became pregnant and we have ensured that she is getting all the medical care she needs through our health clinic. She also enjoys attending our onsite school. She was not sure she would like a girls-only program, but now she asks to participate in the workshops all the time. She particularly appreciated the self-defense workshop.
The Lise Watier: This is Me! Girls Program is made possible by a generous long-term grant from Canadian cosmetics icon Lise Watier, whose foundation funds projects to empower young women. We are very grateful for Madame Watier’s support of our girls and we were delighted to host her last month for the program launch event.