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Bringing out the best in girls

Donation to Women’s Centre to go toward more programs

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From teen dating to self-esteem, social virtues and human rights, the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre is stretching a recent donation in a big way.

As part of its 70th anniversary celebrations last month, Soroptimist International of Winnipeg donated $6,000 to the centre. The money will help introduce a new line of programming aimed at youth in the neighbourhood and help expand existing programs at the centre.

"It’s a big thrill for us," said Kay Stewart, the St. James resident that heads up the local chapter of the international organization.

The funding will help Soroptimist and its volunteers set up a number of new workshops under the banner of Empowerment Training for Women & Girls. The workshops focus on building self-esteem by breaking down body image stereotypes in the media, along with educating teens on the symptoms of a dangerous relationship in an effort to stem domestic violence down the road.

"Girls need to grow up with a positive self-image and having the idea they can accomplish their goals, particularly when they’re living in situations of poverty," said Stewart, noting the issues aren’t just isolated to the north end of the city.  

That includes helping young girls see the difference between a healthy relationship — where they feel safe, valued and listened to — and an unhealthy one, where they feel afraid from being teased, bullied and demanded for sex.

"Helping girls understand what healthy relationships are about will help them avoid getting into relationships that enter domestic violence in the future," said Stewart.

A number of parenting, anti-bullying and Internet safety classes will also be part of the project, Stewart said.

Elaine Bishop, executive director for the centre, said the funding will also help expand its Virtues program, which aims to have the centre’s clients recognize and acknowledge virtues ranging from honesty and integrity to loyalty and courage taking place at the centre or in their community. When they do, they write up a butterfly — the centre’s main symbol — and tack it to the wall.

"It focuses on the virtues we can express in our lives and the ways we engage with neighbours, community and ourselves," said Bishop.

"It’s one of the ways we work to engage more collaboratively and co-operatively with and each other, hopefully that flows into the relationships they have with family and others outside the centre."

This type of programming is necessary for youth in the community, which has a high aboriginal population still living with the effects of more than 100 years of racism and the results of colonialism, Bishop said.

"People in this community have huge resilience and strength," she said.

"These programs build on that to offer people an opportunity to look at good relationships and ways we build on strengths and the way we focus on human rights in our relationships with one another."

The centre is located at 221 Austin St.

For more, visit www.northpointdouglaswomenscentre.org or call 204-947-0321.


matt.preprost@canstarnews.com

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