The HER Girl Club is a youth organization that was created with a mission to provide a safe and empowering place for girls to be themselves.
The group was created in October 2020 and has members from the communities of Rocanville and Moosomin. Its president, Paige Hutchinson, created the organization in hope of bringing young women together on a monthly basis safely during the pandemic.
“It was a really good time to start the group because I think a lot of people used the pandemic as an excuse to not connect, but there’s so many safe ways to connect around it. You can do things outside, wear masks, follow guidelines or even do things virtually. There’s many ways to connect and I wanted to make this happen, I’m glad we got it started.”
“It was great that we started it when we did because there wasn’t anything going on. All these kids didn’t have any connections or activities to do while school was canceled for them. That was a positive to it because there were girls looking to connect, no one was busy at the time so it worked out.”
The HER in the clubs name stands for honesty, empowerment and radiance.
“The ‘H’ stands for honesty, just to honestly be yourself and showing up as who you are and not who society wants you to be or who you think a girl should be. The ‘E’ is for empowerment, for the girls to feel empowered and for them to empower other people. The ‘R’ stands for radiance meant for radiating that honesty and empowerment back into the community,” Hutchinson says.
The organization currently has 15 to 20 girls from ages grade 5 to grade 12 that attend each event. The events are hosted on a monthly basis and always involves a female mentor who provides activities related to their goal for that month.
This month’s event was hosted by Class with Cass Holistic Nutrition and focused on teaching the girls about nutrition and why it’s important for their health.
Hosted by Cassidy Robidoux, the event consisted of the girls making healthy gingerbread houses while taste testing some fresh juice ‘shots.’ Robidoux also educated the group about nutritional facts. By teaching them about what foods contain high contents of protein, vitamins, minerals and the differences between macronutrients and micronutrients.
After building their own gingerbread houses, the girls had to explain what fruits, nuts and syrups they used and why they were healthy.
Hutchinson says the group is all about exploring possibilities.
“To me it’s about exposing the girls to possibilities. Like I went away from Rocanville for university for five years and my eyes opened up so much, in terms of personal growth, self-development, opportunities, career paths. Especially as a woman sometimes growing up there’s still that mind-set of thinking ‘I could be a nurse, a teacher,’ just those traditional roles and I think that’s still the mentality especially in a small town.”
“I just want to expose the girls to as many female role models as possible and be like, this is what’s possible for you. If you have dreams, if you have goals, these are possible. I just want the girls to get a head start in life, to start that growth journey sooner,” Hutchinson says.
The HER Girl Club’s vice-president Lauren van Dyke was able to get a grant of $1,000 from Nutrien Rocanville.
“The donations and grants run our events. Our events would not be possible if it wasn’t for the donations or fundraising. We’re a non-profit organization and we started this group with no money, also most of our events were funded by the girls just to run them.”
Hutchinson says there is a $2 payment for the girls to participate, which helps fund the events and supply the rental costs. She says the ultimate goal is to have the girls access the events free of charge.
“If anyone is looking to donate, even $45, it helps with our rental. Last year Jen Gawryluk called me and said she wanted to donate, I told her that $50 would help to cover our rental space. Then she sends me an e-transfer, I open it to be $500. So last year Jen was our main sponsor and then she donated again this year and paid the fee for all of the girls at one of the events.”
Other donations have come from event hosts Shaquyll Cook, Amanda Selby and Cassidy Robidoux.
“Usually what people donate is their time, their skills and supplies, and that’s the best way to do it. We don’t need a lot of money, obviously the more money the bigger things we can do but at the end of the day that’s not our goal. Our goal is to connect these girls to as many role models and opportunities in the community as possible.”
“Your time is the most valuable thing that you can donate to our club, if that’s something people ever want to get involved with then that’s something we need,” Hutchinson says.
Hutchinson says she is proud of the girls in the group.
“I definitely didn’t know it would come to a year, I’m always staring new projects and I thought if it takes off that’s great but if not at least we had the chance to run a few fun events. I’m really proud of the girls, the girls are very excited to come and they’re really involved. Their really grateful, I couldn’t’ ask for a better group of girls to come to these events.”
“I guess I’m just really proud of them, it’s really awesome to see their enthusiasm because that will take you so far in life.
“If you’re enthusiastic and care about things, that’s all you need whether it’s in your personal life, your family life or even your career.”
Part of the HER Girl Club’s advocacy is to give back to the community, Hutchinson says the group does that by inviting women role models to host their events.
“There’s very few events that we ran that don’t involve women from the community. We’ve done a paint night, bowling night, some of them are a bit more fun like we went to the theater. It’s also a local thing, we’re supporting locals by using the facilities in the community. Also because it was during Covid, some of those facilities weren’t as busy so it was great to get out there and support them,” she says.
Hutchinson says she hopes the organization continues to flourish and wishes to keep introducing the members of the group to more female role models.
“It lights you up inside when you know you’re doing something meaningful. I’m really hoping there’s retention and people want to get involved to continue this legacy on and, hopefully have it pass down for a few years. Especially because these girls are great and I know there’s a lot of grade four girls that cannot wait to join next year, so that’s something I’m looking forward to.”