Community

Preteen girls program builds their self-esteem

General Currie elementary vice-principal Emmanuel Adjei-Achampong gets his nails done by participants of the Hey Girlfriend program—funded by Vancity Savings Credit Union and hosted by Richmond City Centre Community Association—which aims to build social connections and self esteem among pre-teen girls. Adjei-Achampong is joined by, from left, Kelsha Wong, Sonia Li, Henry Yao, Isabel Peng, and Winnie Chang.  - Martin van den Hemel photo
General Currie elementary vice-principal Emmanuel Adjei-Achampong gets his nails done by participants of the Hey Girlfriend program—funded by Vancity Savings Credit Union and hosted by Richmond City Centre Community Association—which aims to build social connections and self esteem among pre-teen girls. Adjei-Achampong is joined by, from left, Kelsha Wong, Sonia Li, Henry Yao, Isabel Peng, and Winnie Chang.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel photo

General Currie elementary vice-principal Emmanuel Adjei-Achampong isn’t one to get his nails done very often.

But if that’s what it took to get out the word about a great new program catering to preteen girls, Adjei-Achampong was willing to take one for the team, even at the expense of an absent-minded nail polish smear on his suit jacket.

Richmond City Centre Community Association rolled out the new Hey Girlfriend program at three local elementary schools last fall, thanks in large part to a $10,000 donation from Vancity Savings Credit Union.

“This is such an awesome program for the students at our school as it provides positive mentorship, and a supportive space for the students to interact with their peers,” Adjei-Achampong said. “This in turn builds their confidence and self-esteem.”

The girls-only program is offered at Henry Anderson, William Cook and General Currie elementary schools.

“The program is designed to provide a safe, interactive and developmental-oriented recreation environment for preteen girls and female youth volunteers to build leadership, social connections and self-esteem,” explained Henry Yao, youth development co-ordinator for the City Centre association.

Healthy snacks are provided while participants play interactive and physical games or do arts and crafts.

Yao said the preteen age group is one of the most vulnerable to substance and lifestyle experimentation, when they can become socially disconnected, addicted to technology, or become victims of bullying.

The program aims to forge strong social and community connections in the hope of building positive self-image, and create better resilience to negative social influences, Yao said.

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