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?
It’s important to understand the girls that you and your mentors will be connecting with. They will be best supported when their unique backgrounds and experiences are recognized and appreciated. This section offers a glimpse of what some girls in Canada may be experiencing, and also guides you to consider the uniqueness of the girls in your own community.
Since girls’ lives are complex and uniquely experienced, a one-size-fits-all approach to programming for girls will not be effective. This section will highlight some of the realities experienced by groups of girls in Canada, as well as the strengths and resilience they possess. By no means are these groupings exhaustive; differences still exist within groups and between individuals that require consideration beyond the scope of the toolkit. If your organization is working with one specific group of girls, it is recommended that you invest the time necessary to conduct more in-depth research to better understand the unique experiences of this group.
“Although the current day risks and stresses in the lives of adolescent girls must be understood, they should not be the defining factors in discussions of adolescent girls.”
- American Psychological Association (2014)
As you explore this section, ask yourself: Does this relate and apply to the girls in my community? The My Program Population section, includes some questions to consider about your own program population. It is worth noting again that these lists aren’t exhaustive, nor do they paint the whole picture of all girls across the country; rather, they are a compilation of statistics, experiences, challenges and strengths of groups of girls in Canada. This information is only useful, however, when we do not label or stereotype girls. It is imperative to recognize the uniqueness of each individual, community and region. When planning and operating a girls group mentoring program, create a positive space that celebrates diversity, whether that be cultural, gender, ability, race, religion, socio-economic or sexual diversity.
Before beginning, program staff should reflect on their own identity and the ‘population’ they are a part of. It is helpful to understand the uniqueness of one’s own history and identity and how this has created opportunities or privileges, as well as how this has presented barriers.
As program leaders we need to find ways for the girls to see themselves reflected in the program. If your program is not reflecting the community of girls you are working with, gaps should be addressed. Approaches to consider will be explored in the sections that follow.