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GDay Rite of Passage – Championing Girls to Empowerment

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Article by: Hilary Mandel

As soon as Carmen Spagnola heard about G Day, a day of celebration and empowerment for 10-12 year old girls welcoming them into adolescence, she wanted her daughter to attend. “Even though we’re really close,” says Spagnola, “I know that I can’t provide everything that she needs to feel prepared in the world.”

The Victoria resident not only accompanied her 11-year-old daughter to Vancouver for the first G Day in April 2014; she experienced the day first hand as a volunteer. That day led her to become the Community Leader for the first G Day Victoria, taking place Sunday, September 20 at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sydney.

The community that Spagnola and her team of volunteers are assembling for G Day Victoria includes “Champions” (parents and other valued mentors and caregivers), volunteers and presenters from across the geographic and socio-demographic spectrum. “We want the girls to see there’s a cohesive community of caring adults here to support them,” Spagnola says

G Day’s full-day program follows the traditional stages of rites of passage: separation, initiation and return. Themes for the Girls program include leadership, personal empowerment, body positivity, music, creativity and movement. The Champions program include workshops on conscious parenting and talking about sex with adolescents. At the end of the day, Girls and Champions reunite for a ritual ceremony that expresses G Day’s real magic: the affirmation of the value of family and community, no matter how we’re related.

 

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Taking in the sights, sounds and energy of Gday – Photo: Wendy D. Photography

“I knew girls in Victoria needed to have this event too,” says Spagnola. “I want to reclaim ritual and rites of passage for every girl, and that’s what I love about G Day – the rite of passage helps girls have a tangible experience of mattering, of being held in the heart of their community.”

The event will be MC’d by Robin Farrell, KOOL 107.3 FM’s morning host, and will feature other prominent local names such as Alice Bracegirdle, founder and CEO of Bellyfit; Jessie Hemphill, the youngest woman and first person from a local First Nation to be elected to Port Hardy’s town council; and writer/speaker Monique Gray Smith, who will serve as MC of the Champions program.

Smith feels “incredibly honoured” to work with the Champions. “Those of us who circle around our young girls have an incredible sphere of influence on their lives,” she says, adding that anyone who plays the role of “auntie,” parent or grandparent, regardless of biological connection, can significantly influence the trajectory of girls’ lives. “The more girls feel supported and not alone, the more they can allow the gifts they’ve been blessed with to unfold,” says Smith. “That’s why I feel so honoured to be able to hold that space on this special day, because Champions are critical in all areas of the wellness of our girls —  mentally, emotionally , spiritually and physically.”

Spagnola says that the message of being supported comes at a really important time for these girls. “Girls are experiencing a much more complicated world much earlier in their lives than they have in the past. Having a tangible experience of the amount of care and support that’s available to them will be a valuable memory, a felt sense that they can carry into all sorts of social situations, now and when they’re older – through school, work, and even relationships.”

For more information about G Day Victoria, including ticket sales, see Gday For Girls   (http://gdayforgirls.com/victoria/.)

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