GLAD Camp 2020
Over the previous three years, the Margahovit Youth Center has held three successful summer camps for young girls, originally through a Let Girls Learn (LGL) grant from the United States Peace Corps. The purpose of the camp is to address the often overlooked, but important needs of these young girls and help them learn positive ways to cope with stereotypes, anxiety and culturally imposed limitations that have had a negative effect on their daily lives. Due to the success of the initial three Girls’ Leadership and Development (GLAD) Camp, the Margahovit Youth Center is fundraising to implement the camp again, taking lessons and tips from the previous camps, for a different group of participants from Margahovit. This year we hope to expand outside of Margahovit by hosting two camps: one for Margahovit’s girls and one for girls in a nearby village. The Girls’ Leadership and Development (GLAD) Camp will address several needs by teaching the participants a range of healthy mental, emotional, and physical coping skills to combat stress and by bringing the group closer together in a safe space so that they can form a strong support network going forward. Last year the participants were able to meet with a female Parliament Member from Gyumri, Nazeli Baghdasaryan, visit the Aslamazyan Sisters’ Gallery (Armenia’s only exclusively female artist gallery), and had a great discussion with the founder of the Ohanyan School and her daughter, a professor at Stonehill College.
This year’s camp will be for 24 girls in total and will be led by community members, Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs), and outside experts focusing on a range of aspects related to emotional and mental health and leaderships skills, including but not limited to: creating a safe space for discussing these issues; healthy expression of emotion; journaling; yoga; strengths finding; personality tests; and leadership styles. The participants from last year’s GLAD Camp meet monthly for a follow-up club, in part to organize monthly seminars for other youth in the village to pass on what they learned during the camp; participants from this version of GLAD will participate in these activities as well. The community of Margahovit will contribute significantly in planning, implementation, and follow-up work. Their goal is to help participants become more mentally and emotionally healthier, equipped with the tools they need to handle the difficulties life throws at them, and thus do good in school and become stronger leaders.
In many towns and villages throughout Armenia, many young girls are unable to protect themselves against the diversity of stereotypes, anxieties, and culturally-imposed limitations. These range from body-image issues stemming from a cultural obsession with thinness, traditions pressuring girls to be quiet and obedient and stigmas associated with seeking help for mental and emotional issues. Of the 19 girls, aged 13-16, surveyed in a Margahovit community needs assessment, approximately two-thirds reported experiencing stress in their lives, with a range of negative behaviors and feelings associated with this stress, including: feeling hopeless and sad; experiencing anxiety and nervousness; feeling weak, imbalanced, and easy to set off; and not wanting to talk to or see anyone. While a number of girls report coping mechanisms generally regarded as healthy, such as talking to friends or taking a walk, the range of mechanisms is fairly narrow (not including a range of other effective methods including journaling, meditation, and preparation of healthy food) and includes methods generally regarded as negative (including avoiding problems, using the internet, and consuming sweets).
Short Term Impact
In the short term, 24 girls, ages 11-16, from the village of Margahovit will participate in a five-day camp at which they collectively establish a safe space to discuss mental and emotional health and stress and learn healthy ways to deal with the variety of stresses in their lives. Following the camp, these 24 girls will join the previous participants’ monthly club at which they discuss how they have been maintaining their mental and emotional health through the skills learned at the camp and support each other in their continuing communal safe space.
Long Term Impact
With the successful implementation of this project, in the long term the participants in our community will be mentally and emotionally healthier, equipped with the tools to handle the difficulties life throws at them, and thus ready to be stronger leaders in the community and spread this knowledge and skills to their peers. Given the variety of ways in which stress can affect girls’ participation and success in school, we also know that with the skills and abilities gained through this project the participants will experience greater academic enthusiasm and success.
our donation to sponsor the GLAD Camp will be recognized on The Paros Foundation website and in appropriate press related to this important project. Donors will also be listed on the GLAD Camp Facebook page announcements and in the wrap-up slideshow/video . Campers will also write thank-you notes to all supporters of the camp.