This Girls Group Mentoring Toolkit provides the tools, resources and support to create, implement, deliver and evaluate a quality group mentoring program for girls, ages 9-13, in your community. The Toolkit is intended to be used in a range of communities, and can be adapted to the unique values, needs, strengths and challenges that each community encompasses.
We have experienced a paradigm shift in delivering this pilot. We’ve gone from programs that are full and intent on keeping kids busy to a program that is designed to empower girls. This is a big change for our organization.
- Girls Group Mentoring Program Staff
Launching a girls group mentoring program can present many opportunities within your organization, but it can also trigger some disruption. For many organizations, starting a girls group mentoring program marked a shift in programming from a less structured and less gendered approach to a very intentional, long-term and continuous program designed for a very specific set of youth in the community. Whenever major change is afoot, it is normal to expect some resistance or pushback as change typically presents both opportunities and potential risks. Rather than seeing this as a roadblock, we would encourage groups to embrace this as a valuable opportunity for mutual learning, discussion, shared planning and goal setting within your organization.
While this process will look very different from one organization to the next, there are some suggestions from the field that can guide program leaders to navigate some broader discussions when developing a girls group mentoring program:
The Boys & Girls Club of Hamilton has a longstanding history of providing effective programming to the youth in their community in a co-ed space. They received a granting opportunity from the Canadian Women’s Foundation to run a girls-only program and quickly learned the value of this gender-specific approach. Girls were more actively participating in sports, speaking up more and their overall engagement was stronger in the safe space created. The learning that the Boys & Girls Club of Hamilton gained in their program allowed them to influence other program approaches and for different age groups. The organization as a whole shifted their thinking around gender-specific programming and furthermore shared their learning with other clubs across Canada. By testing out the approach, evaluating its impact and sharing the results, they gained the support of their organization and influenced a transformational shift in programming.
While this process can feel daunting and require a great deal of discussion and negotiation upfront, the rewards are great and will be well worth the challenge. Many organizations have celebrated the impact of their girls group mentoring programs and continue to see their organizations evolve and adapt to have more inclusive programming with more structured and long-term impacts.
Your program will be stronger if you consider the strengths, needs, and possible collaborations that exist within your organization or group, your community and your wider city/town/region. This section should have provided information to support you to: