Coleg Llandrillo's Rhyl campus held a graduation event for 20 young girls from a local high school, who have become the first group in North Wales to complete the national 'Girls Out Loud' initiative.
'Girls Out Loud' is an award-winning social enterprise with the mission to empower and inspire teenage girls in the UK and beyond, to have confidence, self-belief, emotional resilience and a positive self-image, which, in turn, supports them to think big, embrace risk and reach for the stars.
Each Year 8 girl (or 'little sister') from Blessed Edward Jones Catholic High School was paired with an elder female mentor ('big sister') for 12 months, to help stop the youngsters from potentially veering off track and to give them something to aspire to.
The partnership event at Rhyl College involved the girls getting a full make-over by the college's Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy students before receiving their certificates from their 'big sisters', in front of a packed crowd of friends and families.
The mentoring programme targets the girls who sit in the middle of the cohort and simply cruise and are in danger of becoming invisible as they are neither seriously disruptive, nor super academically gifted. They struggle to find their place and often get lost in the noise, and either hide in the corner or look for validation in all the wrong places.
At 'Girls Out Loud', they understand these girls and believe that they have the potential to be shining stars. 'Girls Out Loud' founder, Jane Kenyon, said:
They are the managers, leaders and entrepreneurs of the future and with some investment from a team of awesome role models to light the way, they will learn to believe in themselves, find their voice, step up and shine.
It was an absolutely fantastic journey for all involved, especially for the girls who need guidance, a boost in self-confidence, aspirations and mentoring.
One of the mentors, 'big sister' Suzanne Profit, who is a lecturer within the Faculty of Leadership and Management at Coleg Llandrillo, said:
I feel like I have made a difference to a young girl's life, even if only in a small way. She may not feel the benefit immediately, but I am sure that later in life, it will have a major impact.
Suzanne's 'little sister', Emily Eaton from Rhyl, said:
Suzanne has definitely helped with my confidence levels. She has been so kind and supportive over the past year. I wouldn't have missed this opportunity for the world.
Dominic Tobin, Head Teacher at Blessed Edward Jones Catholic High School, who was present at the event, said:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all involved in this important initiative, especially the 'big sisters' for volunteering their time.
Teachers at the school, as well as parents of the pupils involved, are well aware of the importance of this project; it is a big asset to the local community. The 'little sisters' are benefitting from the life experiences of the 'big sisters'. We have seen massive progress from the pupils involved in the past year.
The 'Girls Out Loud' mantra is: "Be bold, be brave, be beautiful, but most importantly, be you. Because you are already enough and absolutely perfect, just the way you are."
To date nationally, as a result of the programme, there has been a 50% improvement in attendance, 90% of girls are on target to achieve 3 levels of improvement with regard to attainment, there have been no pregnancies or anti-social behaviour, and over 90% of girls have set their sights on further education or some form of vocational training.