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Community grant helps provide role models and mentorship for young Black girls

By: Kerryann Thomas-Black, Communications volunteer
 
For Aisha Addo, the Power To Girls Foundation is a labour of love.
 
“I came to Canada when I was 14. It was a huge culture shock for me. There wasn't anywhere to go to have conversations with people about the experiences I was having.”
 
A young girl standing with words 'Don't Forget to Be Awesome'That spurred Addo to create the Power To Girls Foundation, to empower marginalized Afro-diaspora girls in the Greater Toronto Area and abroad. Founded in 2011, this non-profit organization offers mentorship, personal development, relationship building, mental health, leadership, and entrepreneurship to young girls.
 
“I am trying to be for these girls all the things I needed as a young girl,” said Addo. “Power To Girls Foundation is a sisterhood where we hold each other accountable.”
 
But then COVID-19 happened and the organization could no longer host in-person conferences or regular face-to-face mentoring sessions. Addo applied for a grant from the Red Cross and used those funds from the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund to move the organization’s summer camp online. They created a virtual community and safe space for girls between the ages of 11 and 15 and engaged 45 girls daily through lessons about mental health, digital media, video editing skills, innovation, content creation and ways to promote their businesses.
 
Addo says the funding from the Red Cross “ensured that the girls who participated were provided with resources that they would need even after the program was completed.”
 
“Power To Girls camp is something that really helped me because at home I only have two little brothers, so I don’t really have anyone to talk to my age,” said Alyssa, 13, who participated in the summer camp. “Power To Girls just really gave me that space to talk and express my feelings. When I go back to school it’s not going to feel like I’ve been in quarantine for a long time.”
 
Power of a Girl poster on becoming a girl leaderConfidence, access to information, opened doors to possibilities, creativity and business ideas are just some of the skills and resources the girls gained through the summer program.
 
The summer program has also encouraged and helped to groom the businesses of these young entrepreneurs who make masks, bracelets, and clothing. The girls say it has prepared them for life after camp through the confidence they’ve gained, the tips on mental health, and the benefits of having a business.
 
Eleven-year-old Markayla is especially excited to share her experience with her class when she goes back to school. “This is the best camp ever and I honestly mean this from the bottom of my heart. It changed so many lives. It just made me into a new person. Thank you!”
 
The Canadian Red Cross is funding the continuation of this work thanks to the generous support of the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund granting program.
If your organization is a non-profit that delivers services to those who are the most vulnerable to the health and social impacts of COVID-19 you may also be eligible for grant funding or free personal protective equipment (PPE) and training.

A second round of funding, PPE and training is being made available beginning October 5, 2020. For more information, please visit www.redcross.ca/communityorganizations.


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