Shelby Sturko buzzes with energy as friends in the Beautiful Girls group arrive at their weekly meeting.
So excited to greet her friends, she can barely sit still. It is like they haven’t seen each other in years, yet it was only last week they were all together at Cheers Church for a talent show.
“It’s awesome, I absolutely love this,” said Sturko. “When you walk through those doors you feel so loved and appreciated. A lot of people don’t want to be an outcast, and here you are like family. Nothing at school or whatever you heard about someone comes in here. In school I feel like I have to keep this image, they have to know me as something. Here I’m just Shelby.”
Some of the girls that attend the weekly Thursday meetings from 7 to 9 p.m. have a typical family, others have deeper issues and use the group as a sanctuary to connect with their peers in a safe place to share their problems.
“When you come here you are looking forward to helping others or hearing how their day went and seeing if you can help them with their problems. To know you have helped someone is one of the greatest feelings,” said group member Alyssa Jamieson.
Beautiful Girls was started four years ago by Brenda Peters. It began with three members and has since grown to over 100 registered girls between the ages of nine to 16. The group relies on the help of its teen youth leaders, who inspire and support the girls.
“Even though we are Bible-based, we have grown to over 100 members. And 99 per cent of the girls are from broken homes. The girls have seen first hand how their Big Daddy will never leave them or forsake them. This feeling of safety and our non-judgmental atmosphere is another part of our success story,” said Peters.
The group is hosting the Shine Conference, for girls aged nine to 16, on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Pre-registration is required by calling Peters at 250-497-5533 and the cost is $5 per person. Along with presentations, the conference will provide workshops in the areas of dance, drama, culinary arts, health and beauty.