Story Sheroes - Engaging Girls In Our Community
"It is sad to say that I would change myself if I could. I would be smarter to impress people. I would be super strong. I would be more beautiful. BUT I SHOULDN'T WANT TO CHANGE! The world should change, not me. The world should just appreciate people. Everyone is beautiful. MEN, WOMEN, everyone."
This was one of the positive messages written in the Story Sheroes: Volume 5 zine. (A zine is a self-made publication with a small distribution number.) The messages in the zine were written by girls in our community, for girls in our community.
"Story Sheroes was created to engage local girls," explained Christy Giesler, the Librarian at Kitchener Public Library (KPL) who oversees the program. "It gives them a safe space to express themselves and talk about things that are important to them."
There are roughly 20 girls who regularly participate in Story Sheroes, and despite their young age-they're all between Grades 4 to 8 - they are often discussing topics such as gender identity, female empowerment and women's rights, and criticizing mainstream notions of body images that are perpetuated through the media.
During the program, the girls are able to
talk to each other, as well as special guests from the community. Women-authors, journalists, and yoga instructors-have come in to share their stories and thoughts, and engage the girls. This allows all of the participants to access new ideas, opinions, and expand their knowledge. It also allows them to become more connected with members of their community, and build mutual respect for each other's differences.
"The girls get to engage with other girls from their community and learn about their experiences," continued Giesler. "Friendships have been made, and I have noticed the girls supporting and encouraging one another during the program."
Activities in the program include creative writing, poetry, crafting, drawing, trivia, leaving kindness bombs hidden throughout the library, and of course, reading. All of the materials are designed to address different topics surrounding the theme of "being a girl in Waterloo Region," and get them thinking about their roles in our community.
At the end of each session, all of their physical work is compiled into a zine which is then published and distributed through KPL and various Little Libraries throughout Kitchener and Waterloo. The girls are also encouraged to take copies to share with their family and friends.
The next session of Story Sheroes will begin in April, and girls can register online at the KPL website.
DID YOU KNOW?
The KWCF has proudly supported the Story Sheroes program with a Community Grant to the YWCA in 2015 - the original program partner with the Kitchener Public Library!