INTERVIEW: B'TWEEN GIRLS

At the beginning of May, I attended two sessions with B'Tween Girls in Calgary, Alberta and have the chance to spend my afternoons with some amazing little girls and their team leader, Tasha. 

Like any girl, we all know that around grade 4 and 5 it can be the start of girls bullying girls for reasons that transition into bigger problems. The sessions that I attended had to primarily deal with 'frienemies'. We all have them, but B'Tween Girls allows these young girls to understand what can trigger bullying and friends being mean to you. The taught the girls that it wasn't their fault, how to address when a friend isn't treating you like a friend and how to still be happy and love themselves, while standing up for yourself in a confident and responsible way.

Tasha had asked me to share my story about overcoming adversity with my head injury and what I had experienced with bullying and frienemies. It was a good inwards reflection and it allowed the girls to understand that everyone has issues and bullying is not okay. They couldn't believe that 'Miss Canada' had been bullied, why would anyone bully 'Miss Canada'. I told them that I know that I am a good person, I would never want someone to feel how I've felt in the past, but I love myself and that is what matters. 

Tasha Belix's mission is helping girls find their full potential, in 2014 she became a Registered Psychologist with the Alberta College of Psychologist and has been doing amazing things in the Calgary Community since. 

Tasha was kind enough to answer a couple of quick questions:


Can you tell me a little bit about B'Tween Girls about, and how you came up with the concept? 
As a youth worker, then counsellor, then Psychologist I have seen how isolation and the lack of healthy social connection, can lead to teen isolation and mental health issues.  It was through my work experience and witnessing first hand with my three girls, that healthy friendships are the cornerstone of overall academic and social success.  I started running B’tween Girls groups in 2014, at the request of a Mom at my daughter's school. From there, this preventative group has grown legs and now has 4 other trained developers/facilitators.

 

How did you decide this program was something that you wanted to continue in your future after it's the first year, and what has it evolved into? 
It was from the enthusiastic response of group participants and observations shared by parents when their daughters attended the B’tween Girls groups, that we knew the 8-week preventative program was needed.  It is such a fun piece of my work as a therapist, to practice social interactions with peers in the moment, that it was a natural progression to the therapy I already to in my private practice. B’tween Girls is now ready to go into schools in Calgary and to be offered as an afterschool program in the community. 

 

What are some of the topic you cover during the B'Tween Girls sessions?
We talk a lot about stress and anxiety, hoping to equip the girls to deal with their emotions in a more healthy way. We also discuss Friendship and what makes a good or bad friendship, as well as what to do when they have a crisis or change in their friendships. 

 

What do you hope these girls will learn overall from the sessions?
To express their emotions in a healthy way, to stand up for themselves while remaining kind to others, to value themselves for who they are, with all their strengths and challenges.  It our girls are equipped with the skills to be kind to themselves and stand up for what they need, they will be less likely to develop anxiety disorders in their teens.  At present, 1 in 3 girls will struggle with depression, anxiety, use self-harm or develop an eating disorder before graduating from high school.

 

Do you have a favourite memory or moment with the girls?
There are so many highlights to girls groups, but my favourite and most satisfying memories are simple statements such as, “This is my favourite day of the week”, “This program has changed my daughter… she is happy again, dancing and smiling and we haven’t seen that in a long time”, “This is the only activity my daughter likes attending”.

 

What are your dreams for B'Tween girls in the future?
Our hope is that the program will be offered widely in schools in Calgary in 2018 and available to girls of all backgrounds. Our big dream for B’tween Girls is to start a movement that will spread across Canada and will eventually become part of the school curriculum.  Learning to have healthy relationships and to feel good on the inside should be a pillar of a well-rounded education.  In 2019, we will start the development of a Boys program, to teach boys about emotional health and how to get their needs met. 


I really do love the B'Tween Girls workshop and I wish nothing but the best for these ladies moving forward with their dreams and aspiration. To all of my little ones, you were all so lovely to get to know, and I am so happy that you shared your stories with me! I will keeping an eye on all of you because I know you will all aim for the moon but reach for the stars- but most importantly, remember to Have Courage and Be Kind.