Last month I was part of a team effort I will always hold as special and that hopefully created lifetime memories for some Grade 8 girls. The city recreation department received grant money from the BC Parks and Recreation Association to create a brand new program called Girls Expanding Boundaries.
We wanted to get girls who might be falling through the cracks active, and offer introductory lessons to snowshoeing, snow boarding and cross-country skiing. But we wanted to do something more — we wanted to inspire the girls. So we arranged for extraordinary women to talk to the girls about challenges, being female and success. There wasn’t much grant money so we made some phone calls…
Middle school counsellors Michelle Tom, Louise Ganton and Jennifer Barber instantly endorsed the program, recruiting the girls and helping arrange the paperwork we needed for the program and meeting our deadlines when then had plenty of their own to deal with.
Karen Davy at Astral Media and the South Okanagan Children’s Charity secured a $300 donation for the program. And she brought great prizes for the wrap up party.
We needed program leaders with plenty of skills with at-risk kids, class 4 driver’s licences to get the kids up and down the mountain and women who the girls would trust and look up to. Thanks for Lana Corbett (who drove all the way from Kelowna for each session) and Stana Dugo for coming to our rescue.
Lyndie Seddon of Hoodoo Adventures took the girls snowshoeing. She donated her time, arranged for food and a place to eat and spoke to girls from her perspective as a young business person. To top off the day, Larissa from the Henna Hut donated materials and time to give the girls henna tattoos.
When we realized the girls didn’t have proper winter clothing we called Trina Jardine at the Salvation Army and she came through with snow pants, toques, mittens, scarves, juice boxes and snacks.
Gina Kingsbury, Olympic gold medal winning hockey player, inspired and talked to the girls at the snowboarding session — and even brought her medals.
Nickel Plate Nordic Centre provided extraordinary support of the GEB program. They donated the equipment, passes, lunch and the instructors donated their time so the girls could learn cross-country skiing. Afternoon SUN FM radio announcer CJ Farell came along and the girls loved hanging out with her.
For the last session we held a wrap-up party at Smith and Co. Owner Terry Olfert let us host our wrap up party, stayed open later for us and then, when we went an hour over time, kindly said we could stay as long we liked.
The party highlight was Sue Lionello leading a vision-boarding workshop with the girls. Sue covered at the last minute for a presenter too ill to participate, even rearranging her family’s travel plans. With Sue’s encouragement, humour and honesty, the girls cut our pictures and words from magazines and pasted them on card stock around their own photo. At the end of the party the girls shared their finished vision boards with the group. Their confessions were moving and beautiful.
The GEB girls were amazing. So was the community support.
Ted Hagmeier is a recreation co-ordinator with the City of Penticton.