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'I am glad I am a girl' summer camp for Mary Seacole Hall

Nadine Wilson
Monday, June 25, 2012

INTENT on empowering young girls to lead successful lives, students of the Mary Seacole Hall, which is the only all-female hall of residence at the University of the West Indies, Mona, will next month host a "I am glad I am a girl" summer camp for more than 50 girls from across the island.

The summer camp will be held July 8-15 at the Mary Seacole Hall, and is aimed at girls between the ages of 13 to 17 years old. To ensure that they reach a wide cross section of girls, Student Services and Development Manager for Mary Seacole Hall Nadeen Spence said these girls were either nominated by hall residents, principals of schools in deep rural areas, or by the Peace Management Initiative which works with inner-city communities. The intent, she said, is to teach these girls life skills that can make them more productive citizens.

"There is a principle that says that if you educate women and empower women it's a strategy to end poverty; so if you start from girls, if you educate girls to the point where they make the kind of choices that would see them empowered and going to school and not getting pregnant and not being exposed to transactional sex, etc, then it could be a tool to ending poverty. So we are working with that principle, that if you are educating a girl, you are feeding a village," explained Spence.

Spence said that girls will also be taught about financial empowerment in terms of saving and making financial investments. They also plan to have seminars on career planning, so that the girls can know the requirements for pursuing their area of choice.

"There will be leadership training, self-esteem building and [topics on] sexual and reproductive rights as well as self-defence. They will be going on field trips in and around Kingston and we will talk to them about career choices, about living healthy lifestyles generally, and conflict management," she said.

"It's trying to target girls who would not normally get this opportunity. If it is that there are opportunities available that a young woman would have been exposed to this kind of information, then this is not the kind of young woman that we want. We want the ones who would not get this type of information," said Spence.

Whereas the first staging of the event last year was basically "a testing of the waters" for the Seacolites, Spence said this year's camp will be much more structured. Approximately 28 girls attended last year's event and were feted to a wide range of activities, including a closing dinner.

Spence said the group is hoping to get sponsorship for this year's batch of girls which would assist with offsetting some of the expenses associated with hosting the camp.

"In reality, it is about $40,000 per girl for the camp. Mary Seacole Hall donated the room, so we are not paying for accommodation, so we have been getting stuff donated so we can knock off some of the costs associated so we can bring it down to a point where we only ask them to make a contribution," she said.

Spence believes the camp will be a good way to get the Seacolites to mentor young girls who are in need of guidance.

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