2 July 2015
Each year, YWCA Canberra runs Y-Aspire, a leadership program for young women in years 7 and 8 of high school.
The program offers a weekly two hour session for groups of up to 12 participants over eight weeks. Topics covered throughout the program include identity, skills and skill building, body confidence, relationships and careers.
On Monday 12 June, the participants from last term’s Y-Aspire program came together for a special follow-up session at the YWCA Computer Clubhouse, where they had the chance to reflect on their experiences of the program and make a creative response using the technology in the Clubhouse.
I was lucky enough to attend the session, and chat to some of the participants about Y-Aspire and what they got out of the program.
Shanika and Casey were busy learning how to use Photoshop to enhance some of the photos from the program, to use in their visual response when I spoke to them. They said that one of the things they got out of Y-Aspire was being able to think about what’s important to them, and what they want to do in the future.
‘I want to do photography,’ Shanika said. ‘I don’t really know what I want to be yet, but with doing Y-Aspire and looking at careers, it kind of opened up different things I could do.’
For Ashlee, one of the best things about Y-Aspire was making new friends.
‘I didn’t know most of the people who did Y-Aspire, so now I know them more. Sometimes we hang out at school,’ she said.
Ashlee also shared what she learnt about body confidence.
‘In all magazines and movies, the girls are really pretty, so we think “I have to look like that”’, she said. ‘[Y-Aspire] sort of tells you don’t worry what other people say, just worry about what you think of yourself.’
A lot of the girls found the body confidence and identity sessions in Y-Aspire to be really meaningful.
‘I used to be afraid of being self-confident, but now I know it’s just a normal thing and there’s no problem with it,’ Kiara said.
‘Body confidence was my favourite part [of the program],’ Florida said. ‘We got to talk about how we feel about our bodies and stuff, and let out everything we hadn’t said to other people before. Y-Aspire helped us be more confident.’
For Maddie, the program also made her realise what was important to her. ‘School – I like learning new skills and getting better at maths.’
Florida also shared the bigger impact the program has had on her.
‘I moved here from New Zealand last year. It’s really different here and I’m getting used to it. My mum knew I was shy and I told her about the program and she said I could do it. And she’s happy that I’ve changed. It helped me make friends.’
The girls had a great time at the Clubhouse using the video cameras, Photoshop, drawing tablets and more to develop their creative responses, which they shared with each other.
It was great to chat to such an amazing group of smart, engaged young women and to see the impact of Y-Aspire on their confidence and personal growth.