‘Girls find their voice, ac­knowl­edge their tal­ent and soar’

Woman & Home - - Making A Difference -

the teen men­tor

Jane Kenyon, 54, is an en­tre­pre­neur and the founder of Girl­sOutLoud.org.uk, a so­cial en­ter­prise help­ing young girls from or­di­nary back­grounds reach their full po­ten­tial. She lives in Knutsford, Cheshire, with hus­band Tony.

It’s been my mis­sion to make a dif­fer­ence since 2009, when I was asked to cre­ate and de­liver an in­ter­ven­tion pro­gramme de­signed to help trou­bled teenagers in black­pool. these girls had se­ri­ous be­havioural is­sues, were on the point of ex­clu­sion from ed­u­ca­tion, had no as­pi­ra­tions and zero self-es­teem. yet the im­pact of hav­ing an adult be­lieve in them, who they could talk to, was huge.

a year later I set up Girls out loud with the aim of mo­ti­vat­ing and in­spir­ing young girls. Work­ing with schools, I learned that, while a lot of at­ten­tion is given to the gifted and tal­ented, and the trou­bled or badly be­haved, but it’s ac­tu­ally the 65% in the mid­dle who get lit­tle sup­port, and who strug­gle to achieve their po­ten­tial.

so­ci­ety’s pres­sures on these girls are im­mense and neg­a­tive. they think their worth lies only in their ap­pear­ance, ma­te­rial goods and the num­ber of likes they have on so­cial me­dia. De­pres­sion, eat­ing dis­or­ders and self-harm are rife.

My men­tor­ing pro­gramme matches girls in years 8-10 with a fe­male role model who, for a year, be­comes their big sis­ter. through monthly meet­ings and reg­u­lar events, they es­tab­lish a real and mean­ing­ful rap­port. there are so many uplift­ing sto­ries, where girls find their voice, ac­knowl­edge their tal­ents and soar.

the more you help, the more you want to do. so on the week be­fore Christ­mas, tony, my niece Holly and I will be out­side a stranger’s front door laden with bags full of ta­ble dec­o­ra­tions, food, wrap­ping pa­per, gifts and crack­ers, to help fam­i­lies who can’t have a proper Christ­mas through cir­cum­stances such as re­dun­dancy or ill health. >>

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