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.
Why is this important?
In order to make the most of this toolkit and to build a strong Girls Group Mentoring Program, it’s helpful to understand how the toolkit is laid out and the value of girls group mentoring.
“I never used to talk a lot, I used to be quiet … I’ve seen her talk, to not be afraid, I started learning from her, and I started to gain self-confidence.”
- Girls Group Mentoring participant
Girls in Canada represent a rich diversity of experiences and realities. Early adolescence is a particularly important time for girls as they begin to explore and develop their individual identities in the face of the media and society’s expectations. It is a time of maturity, growth and change. Evidence has shown that girls are particularly susceptible to challenges related to their physical and mental health, body image and self-esteem. Many girls also face systemic barriers that can negatively impact their personal growth and development including, but not limited to, poverty, racism, homophobia, transphobia, marginalization and sexism. By engaging with girls between the ages of 9 and 13, communities can intervene at a critical time in a girl’s development.
Every girl should believe in herself and realize that she matters. Mentoring can be a valuable means of providing support and reinforcing the belief that we are all special and important. Mentoring is the presence of a caring individual who provides a young person with support, advice, friendship, reinforcement and constructive role modelling over time. Mentoring is about building relationships. Girls group mentoring programs work to create a supportive environment where girls can make connections that foster their strengths and support them through challenges.
Group mentoring occurs when one or more mentors is matched with two or more mentees. According to Kuperminc & Thomason (2014), “group mentoring must involve an intentional focus on interpersonal relationships and incorporate the core elements of effective youth mentoring relationships: mentor(s) with greater experience offering guidance intended to facilitate growth and development of mentees, and development of an emotional bond between mentor and mentees.” Through the development of positive relationships, a safe space, diversity-positive messages and an opportunity to develop new tools, girls group mentoring programs help girls to thrive and succeed.
Girls group mentoring programs celebrate individuality while providing safe spaces for girls and women to connect and share their voices and common experiences. When girls are given tools, space and encouragement, they are empowered to develop their voices in their communities and navigate the challenges of adolescence.
Girls benefit from gender-specific and gender-positive group mentoring programs. These programs have particular benefits that help girls build resilience and protective factors. Some of these may include:
–Canadian Women’s Foundation (2014)
This toolkit will present you with strategies and approaches that can guide you to support girls to achieve these same outcomes. We now invite you to read through the following sections to learn about how you can develop a girls group mentoring program in your community.