Help us give teen girls a space to thrive!
My name is Savanah and I am the public education and engagement coordinator at Justice for Girls. This has been my journey.
Growing up in Vancouver money was always tight; my parents often had multiple jobs to make ends meet. I moved many times, sometimes more than twice a year. I wore donated and second-hand clothes. There was almost no money for field trips and school fees. Instead of new workbooks, I got photocopied workbooks in used binders; mine were different from my classmates’. Most days, I relied on free school lunches.
In high school, I continued to struggle, but becoming a teenage girl came with itsown set of problems. In high school, there was no hot lunch, so I went without. I still couldn't pay school fees and now my teen peers made fun of my old clothes. Boys verbally, physically and sexually harassed me in class and in the halls. I became further and further disconnected from school and was passed on from teacher to teacher, counselor-to-counselor and even to the school liaison police officer. People consistently gave up on me. I began to give up on me. For over a year I did not step foot into a school.
I was determined to get an education and eventually made my way back to school, an Alternative program in East Vancouver. At my new school, my youth and family worker worked his hardest to make coming to school easy for me. He also worked to get as many financial barriers out of my way as possible.Finally, I started to succeed in school.
When I was 17 years old, the alternative education staff approached me about a part-time internship they thought would be a good fit for me. In April 2016, I was hired and began training as an intern at Justice for Girls, a grass roots girls’ rights organization in Vancouver co-led by young women.
Suddenly, I had a voice, and it was a loud one.I realized I was not the only teenage girl who had these experiences of poverty and violence. Sadly, these experiences are common for girls and young women. The Justice for Girls internship allowed me and other girls to be leaders, to promote girls’ rights and to make change in the systems that have impacted us. In 2017, I graduated, Valedictorian of my school.
Teen girls who live in poverty need a chance to grow and thrive.
Justice for girls has listened to teenage girls in poverty for 20 years. This is what we have learned: girls want a space of their own.They want a place to find safety, dignity, and community.
You can help us give teenage girls who live in poverty a chance to thrive.Help us build a Justice for Girls Center—a gathering place for teenage girls in poverty. Our center will offer girls a safe place to socialize, an exciting hub of young women’s activity, a community kitchen, health services, advocacy, parenting support, addictions support, education programs, health and wellness programs, counselling and more. The Justice for girls Center will give young women a place to find dignity and the chance to move from surviving to thriving.
In our recent focus groups with young women, I could feel the excitement when we collectively imagined a Justice for girls Center. We reveled at the idea of having a space to call our own, a place where we would be safe and listened to.
I imagine what my life would have looked like if I had a space like this when I was 13. But I didn’t. And that is why I have dedicated the last three years to working with Justice for Girls to make the dream of a Justice for Girls Center a reality. I want teenage girls impacted by poverty to have what I didn’t, a space to thrive. Justice for Girls came into to my life at exactly the right moment. I have had support from women and girls that I never had before. I have had Justice for Girls beside me since my first day in April 2016. They have believed in my leadership as a young woman through all of it. And now as I write this, once a girl who slipped through the cracks, I am the Public Education and Engagement coordinator at Justice for Girls. Help me make my dream of a Justice for Girls Center a reality.