Y-Aspire: Firing girls up for their future

18 February 2016

In 2012 I was approached to research, design, implement and evaluate a leadership and self-esteem program for young women.

“Why a girls group?”

This is one of the most common questions I get asked when I introduce the Y-Aspire program to young women.

‘”Why not?!” is my answer.

“Knowledge is power,” I tell them.

Becoming a teenager can be such a confusing and confronting time, and the more you know about the road ahead the better prepared you can be for the journey.

Y-Aspire is a leadership program for girls in years seven and eight. The program aims to inspire young women to build confidence and skills that will assist them in their journey through adolescence and beyond.

I conducted research and designed Y-Aspire over a six month period before piloting the program with a group of senior school young women who were encouraged to provide critical feedback.

The program runs over eight weeks and consists of a weekly two-hour session during school time. Each group brings together around 12 young women from years seven and eight. Within the group we explore topics including identity, skills and skill building, self-esteem, mental health, careers and body image.

As adolescence is such a dynamic period of growth and change, often the young women ask to learn about other topics. For example, last year a group wanted to know more about menstruation, and another was interested in learning about mindfulness. A key strength of the Y-Aspire program is the flexibility to deliver topics based on the girls’ feedback.

In addition to the topics covered, the program also includes a Warehouse Circus session on circus skills, and a visit from a yoga instructor!

Since 2013, Y-Aspire has been delivered to over 250 young women. Over half of our participants report an increase in self-esteem. During each program I observe a noticeable growth in confidence among the girls, as well as the formation of close bonds and new friendships.

In 2014, Y-Aspire received the ACT Mental Health Week Award for Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention.

Below is some feedback from young people who have participated in the program:

“I learnt that if I need to talk to someone this program is very useful for that”

“I learnt that I’m just like everyone”

 “I can be who I want without people judging me”

“I don’t need someone to compliment me because I can compliment myself”

“I learnt more about myself”

Y-Aspire continues to be a popular program for young women and schools in the Tuggeranong district, with 2016 already fully booked.

For more information about Y-Aspire, please contact me at Natasha.drumgold@ywca-canberra.org.au


Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply