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Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta: Inspiring girls to be strong, smart & bold
Breaking free of gender stereotypes can be difficult, especially for girls between the ages of six and 18-years-old. But Girls Incorporated (Girls Inc.) of Northern Alberta is doing exactly that through their non-profit organization, equipping these girls with the knowledge and skills needed to create social change, be proud of who they are, and be confident in their own skin.
The Girls Inc. programs are research-based, and implemented through a close partnership with local schools and youth organizations. They serve communities all over the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo – reaching over 400 girls yearly – and have a team of passionate programmers and volunteers dedicated to creating an equitable society for girls where they realize their full potential.
Girls Inc. has been around for over 140 years – originally as Girls Clubs of America. They were formed to help young farm girls who were moving in to cities for work. These girls were looking for positive support systems to help them adjust. Fifty Girls Clubs were formed; this morphed in to Girls Incorporated when Girls Clubs and Boys Clubs of America merged. Girls Inc. chose to stay gender-specific as did Big Sisters of Fort McMurray.
In 2004, Big Sisters of Fort McMurray morphed into Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta, and since its origin in 1979, Girls Inc. has helped thousands of young girls develop into mature, responsible, happy young women.
Programs are held weekly in class rooms and facilities across the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. Girls in the programs are inspired to be strong, smart and bold, live healthy and physical lives, navigate media messages, and develop an interest in science, math and technology. Camps during summer, Spring Break and Teachers Convention are also available, where all programs and activities are melded together for one fun, interactive camp! There is also a yearly science program run by volunteers. Operation S.M.A.R.T is led by D’Andrè Wilson-Ihejirika of Brain STEM Alliance.
The program has a very positive impact on the girls and the community. Girls learn to use their voice, to develop critical thinking skills; they learn how to mitigate life’s pitfalls and to deal with negative peer pressure, discover their innate leadership skills to set goals for themselves. The community benefits from these girls and their growth.
Annual events such as the Girls Inc. Golf Tournament and the Zombie Run help provide funding to this important group. Together with Syncrude, Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta also acknowledge the many amazing women who make the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo a great place to live, work and raise families through The Women of Inspiration (WOI) Series.