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Building skills while giving back

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(L-R) SNAP Girls Julia, Jana, Dahlia and Selena continued to develop their leadership skills over the summer.

The SNAP Girls Youth Leadership Group showcased their organization, public speaking and mentorship skills over the summer with a stint as health and fitness leaders at Child Development Institute’s Camp Wimodausis.

“I like being a leader,” says Jana, age 15. “Being a positive mentor is important to me, and I’m helping to teach the campers responsibility, respect and how to be leaders themselves,” she says.

Since 1982, Camp Wimodausis has been a refuge for children ages 6 to 11 whose social and behaviour problems prevent them from attending other summer day camps. Through praise and positive reinforcement from counsellors, campers are able to participate in fun and educational activities including arts and crafts, sports, music, swimming, special interest clubs, weekly field trips, nature hikes and theme days.

Once a week, the SNAP Girls Youth Leadership Group led the children through proper stretching and cool-down routines and their favourite physical team-building activities. The partnership with Camp Wimodausis enabled the girls to earn high school volunteer hours while also continuing to build close connections with their peers within the program.

“Volunteering at Camp Wimodausis gives the girls an opportunity to use their leadership skills in a new setting, building on the strong foundation they’ve developed over the last year,” says Faisa Mohamud, Child and Family Worker, SNAP Girls team. “Maintaining the group throughout the summer has been really beneficial: we’re seeing the girls gain a lot of confidence through this new experience.”

In addition to participating in Camp Wimodausis this past summer, the SNAP Girls Youth Leadership Group meets on a weekly basis throughout the school year, supporting the girls as they cope with challenges both at home and at school. “We cover topics that are important to the girls, like volunteerism, community safety, healthy relationships, anti-oppression, intersectional feminism and assertive communication,” says Faisa Mohamud.

CDI launched SNAP Girls in 1996 as the first-ever sustained, gender-specific program for behaviourally troubled girls and their families. Developed using the award-winning SNAP model, the program incorporates a feminist lens to recognize gender differences. The program components are similar to the SNAP Boys program, but there are important differences based on research and best practices for treating girl aggression, including a greater emphasis on communication and relationship-building.

To learn more about SNAP Girls, click here.