Darrell Dexter Announces Leadership Opportunities To Help Young Women Build Better Futures

May 15, 2013

The province is helping more young Nova Scotians to take part in activities that connect them to their community, develop their futures and build their confidence.

Premier Darrell Dexter announced today, May 15, that the province will fund a new Lighthouses Program Partnership. The Halifax Youth Advocate Program’s Girls United will help girls at risk.

“Together, we are helping girls and young women stay on track to a positive future,” said Premier Dexter. “The Girls United project reaches a particularly vulnerable group. By working with our partners, we are building stronger, safer Nova Scotia communities for everyone.”

Through the program, about 20 girls will participate in job training and other activities, which will help create friendships and build positive support networks. Some of the girls are helping to develop activities to meet the needs of the group.

Program participants face a number of risks, including a lack of positive role models, personal conflict or friends involved in crime or gang activities. They are vulnerable to sexual abuse, prostitution and drug use. By having participants help design and deliver activities, Girls United will be able to connect in ways that traditional programs have not.

“Girls face many obstacles and challenges unique to this generation,” said Samantha Rheaume, a youth advocate worker. “Giving them a chance to guide their program development allows them to help themselves and support each other. The activities they plan will help them build life and employability skills and their self-esteem.”

In April, Premier Dexter put together an Action Team on Sexual Assault and Bullying to better protect girls, women and all Nova Scotians. Girls United is an example of the kinds of partnerships the province wants to support to help prevent sexual violence and help keep girls and women safer.

A wide range of partners are joining to deliver the program, including Heartwood Centre for Community Youth Development, the Elizabeth Fry Society of Nova Scotia, Atlantic Youth, East Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club, the Empathy Factory, the Halifax Youth Attendance Centre, Kachina Health Associates, HRM’s Adventure Earth Centre and Banana Republic.

“The Girls United project will empower girls to strive for a productive and fulfilling future as it will equip them to succeed in today’s complex and pressure-filled society,” says Chief Jean-Michel Blais of Halifax Regional Police. “We are proud to join with our partners in supporting this life-changing program for girls that will address some of the root-causes of crime and contribute to the overall health and safety of our community.”

The province will support the project with an annual $12,000 grant.

The Lighthouses program has invested more than $1.2 million to 21 partners since it began in 2010.