Little Divas program launches

A new program at Regent Park Focus launched on October 26th - the Little Divas girls program! This program is a variation of the Divas girls program, just for a younger age range from 9 to 12 years old. The Little Divas programming is facilitated by our partners at CANVAS Arts Action Programs, Twoey and Maymuna. CANVAS describes their mission as using "interactive, arts-inspired training programs to educate on gender equity, consent, and LGBTQ2S+ inclusion in schools, summer camps, community centres and workplaces. Through creative and compassionate workshop facilitation, participants critically examine harmful norms, learn about the struggles of marginalized groups, and recognize their capacity to affect positive change. Together, we can work towards a more empathetic, equitable and kinder world-view." (Read more about CANVAS and their programming here: www.canvasprograms.ca)

We have a smaller, more intimate group size for this program, which seems to be working well with the younger age group. The girls all know each other from the local childcare centre at St. Bartholomew's Church just up the street from Regent Park Focus, which helps with the sense of rapport and peer connection in the Little Divas group.

We started out exploring stereotypes, including gender stereotypes and where we learn stereotypes from. We looked further into gender stereotypes that are seen in children's toys and toy marketing, and what is considered and perpetuated to be a "girl toy" and a "boy toy" and what that means about ideas of what children are "supposed to" be based on their gender. We delved further into gender stereotypes by looking at gendered Halloween costumes also, which was also timely right around Halloween. The girls also shared their own experiences with gender stereotypes and how they felt about what society expects of them as girls through these stereotypes. We also started to explore some racial stereotypes, and the girls shared some of their own experiences with race-based stereotypes too.



The girls seemed to be gaining a better understanding of stereotypes in general, so we asked them to start thinking of how they would "talk back" to the stereotyping they have experienced - how they would respond to those moments now to explain to the person who was stereotyping them why it was hurtful or offensive and how that stereotype affected them personally.

The girls also wrote letters to their future selves about their goals in the Little Divas program for this year - both artistic goals and learning goals. At the end of this cycle in the Spring, we will explore those letters again to see if the girls were able to progress from the beginning of the cycle and achieve the goals they set out for themselves in the Fall.

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