I’m blessed to live in a great city. It’s physically a beautiful place on the ocean and by the mountains. The city has a rich cultural life, great food and pretty great city services too. I’ve always said that it’s a wonderful place to raise kids.
As someone committed both personally and professionally to young people having great role models and loads of opportunities to learn about healthy communication and self-esteem, this week, more than most, I have a love on for Vancouver.
So why am I full of Van-love?
Self-esteem and communication are the cornerstones of sex education. They are the cornerstones of great sex. So the more ways kids can hear messages of self-love, develop tools for countering limiting stereotypes, build empathy muscles and break down the walls that make way for bullying and bashing, the more I think we will have a generation of people who grow up with body smarts, love smarts and sex smarts.
It is off-the-charts fantastic that two programs launched this week that are all about empowering young people. In both cases, the programs aim to connect pre-pubescent/pubescent kids to their peers and create opportunities for honest discussion that, fundamentally, are about respect for self and others.
iGuy is the brainchild of Saleema Noon. A successful sexual health educator in Greater Vancouver schools, Saleema and her team have been running iGirl workshops for a few years. This new program fills an important gap. Boys in grades 4 through 7 will tackle gender stereotypes, healthy expression of emotions, relationships and pornography. The straight-to-the-point workshop preps our pre-adolescent boys to be their best selves and make smart decisions in tough situations.
Saleema has been working hard to design a program that won’t just appeal to parents but will have cred among the young men themselves. I’m guessing she’s got the secret sauce.
GDay is a 2nd reason why this city is a great place to raise kids. This one is for the girls. It’s an inaugural event with hopes of spreading far and wide. It’s visionary leader (among many leaders) is Madeleine Shaw, social entrepreneur and founder of Lunapads & Pads4Girls.
G Day celebrates and empowers girls ages 10-12 as they transition into adolescence. The idea behind it is to honour this rite of passage like was done historically but now with a modern twist. A day full of speakers and discussion, a space where girls can come together and explore what makes them unique as individuals as well as what connects them to one another. At a time when women often view one another with disdain, helping young women appreciate their similarities and sisterhood is a critical way to build their individual and collective self-regard. I’m delighted to be one of the speakers during the day.
Do you have programs like this in your community? Have you looked? Do tell…
Whether it’s a big, single day event, a small group facilitated conversation or one-on-one opportunities for your tweener, I encourage you to find ways for your kids to hear these positive messages from trusted and inspired adults other than yourself. They need lots and lots of positive messaging from multiple sources at this critical stage.
And really, if there’s nothing close by, maybe consider what you can do to change that…