Walk onto any playground, enter any school and among the laughter and running you will, sadly, hear hurtful words. Fat, ugly, weirdo, stupid. These words circulate the halls and can break the spirits of young girls and boys.
One organization in Denver is working to empower young girls. The Shimmer Sparkler Shine Project was founded by Ciara Neill and works with girls ages 8-13.
Now, are you ready for this? She started the project at the age of 16.
Ciara was bullied in middle school because she was a curvier young woman. She found release when middle school ended and she was able to start high school in a new area.
“I was able to find new friends and be able to feel better about myself,” stated Neill.
While in her Tae Kwon Do class, she noticed a younger student suffering from low self esteem. She started talking to her, and gave her a self esteem book created by the Dove Company. From there, the two had a makeup day and a photo shoot.
Neill knew she wanted to keep helping young girls with low self esteem. From there, she went on to mentor young women individually.
In February of 2012, the Shimmer Sparkle Shine project had its first group meeting.
“We first worked with pre-established groups such as Girl Scouts and my Tae Kwon Do class. They helped with the sign-ups,” Neill explained.
The young girls get to partake in five stations all aimed at increasing their self confidence. Each station is run by volunteers. A crowd favorite is the Comfort In Your Own Skin station, where the young girls visibly can see how mass media uses Photoshop to alter women’s bodies.
But what makes this program different from other bullying programs? Well just that: It teaches young girls how to love themselves and empower others. It brings together local volunteers and young girls. The girls get to talk with older women who want to build them up.
“I don’t think you can stop bullying,” stated Neill, “But you can change how you react to it.”
They are not stopping in Denver. Oh no! The organization has taken its message to social media. You can partake in the Self-Worth Awareness Day in February or in the Share Your Sparkle Day event. Be on the look out for both of these campaigns.
This year they will be hosting workshops in Boise and Salt Lake City. You can bring a workshop to your area too. If you are interested, send a message to Ciara. She will respond to you in between her classes at BYU Idaho. Oh yeah, she is still in college.
Hugs and Smiles,
Contact The Shimmer Sparkle Shine Project for more information.