Jamie Varon is a freelance writer known for telling it like it is. So when she published her article on the “20 Real Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was a Teenage Girl” many women took notice.
Jamie notes a series of challenges girls are faced with from seeing women in magazines that do not look like you, whether they are taller, thinner, have clearer skin, and so on, to dealing with feelings of unexpected sadness as you overcome new obstacles.
The thoughts, experiences, and encounters that Jamie lists are prominent in our society and continue to become further embedded in the fabric of our communities. The reality is that from a young age, girls are faced with many challenges: from body issues, to struggles with confidence, peer pressure, and the desire to fit in, just to name a few.
Canadian Hadassah-WIZO (CHW) puts emphasis on addressing these societal truths and finding real ways to assist young girls and women in living with, tackling, and overcoming them. One way that CHW aims to combat these issues is through the Empowerment Program for Girls at-Risk at CHW Hadassim Children and Youth Village.
This is a powerful program as it reaches out to girls from the dormitories and family units who are already coming from challenging backgrounds. These girls have not been given the support, nor the tools for handling these issues psychologically, emotionally, and physically. In this program, the girls are taught to appreciate themselves, how to approach feelings of insecurity, how to react to an insult, peer pressure, and so on. These values and skills equip these young and impressionable girls with the ability to tackle challenges that may come their way.
Orian is one of the girls who participated in this program. Orian grew up in the Girls at-Risk Family Unit. She shares her experience, “Since I can remember, I always struggled with my confidence. I would look in the mirror and then in magazines and not understand why I did not look like these girls. The mother of my Family Unit encouraged me to attend the Empowerment Program. I went and suddenly found myself surrounded by other girls who felt the same way. I learnt how to embrace who I am and actually like myself! I gained confidence. But even more, I learnt to stop putting so much emphasis on the way I look; it is what is inside that counts.”