Simran Purewal (left) and Chadni Khondoker started Sisterhood

‘Sisterhood’ helps young girls thrive

Mentorship program empowers Grade 7 Surrey students to be more self-confident and to set long-term goals.

Two Surrey women are helping young girls believe they can be leaders, positive role models and effect change in their communities.

While in Grade 10 at Frank Hurt Secondary, Chadni Khondoker and Simran Purewal had an idea. They wanted to help empower girls to stand up to intimidation and bullying and give them the tools to build their self confidence and reach their goals.

In the spring of 2012, with the help of school principal Gloria Sarmento, the two young women launched Sisterhood, a free one-on-one mentorship program for Grade 7 girls.

Khondoker witnessed bullying and abusive behavior at school, especially directed toward girls, and she felt she needed to step up.

“I am very sure of myself and I have a very strong support system,” she said. “I wanted to help other girls be strong and be able to stand up for themselves. That’s why I started this program.

“I could have just turned and walked away (when intimidated), but if everyone does that, things are never going to change.”

Initially offered at M.B. Sanford Elementary, the program is currently available in six Surrey partner schools.

Purewal and Khondoker hire “presidents” at various local high schools who train “big sisters” who offer a special leadership day at elementary schools to encourage students to become involved.

Over the course of five weeks, the girls are paired with Grade 12 mentors and the “sisters” work through a curriculum that focusses on team building. Fun activities are used to tackle topics such as body image, health and fitness, bullying and high school transition and careers.

The girls are encouraged to share their goals and not keep their dreams to themselves for fear of not reaching them. Khondoker  said often just by vocalizing your dreams, you are more likely to achieve them.

“I have always been driven towards very supportive people… willing to help me reach my goals,” she said. “That really helped me through high school because high school can be a really hard time.”

To date, 296 young girls have participated in the program.

Since Sisterhood began to gain traction, other students at the school started to implement complementary programs aimed at engaging youth in recreational activities and other healthy outlets for teens.

“For many kids, school is like an outlet from home and to come to school to an environment that is almost abusive isn’t right.”

Both Khondoker and Purewal are currently studying sciences at UBC.

 

Just Posted

White Rock rail forum leads to renewed calls for relocation

Upgrading safety is not enough say local politicians

McCallum says Surrey LRT communication plan close to election is ‘perceived interference’

McCallum ‘gravely concerned’ Surrey and TransLink will violate election financing rules, but city says all rules will be followed

White Rock’s Johnston Road to re-open on schedule: city

One lane in each direction expected to open by Friday at 7 p.m.

Two Surrey volleyballers set to play for Team Canada

Brianna Beamish and Kiera Van Ryk in Japan for FIVB World Championships

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income people

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

Extradition hearing set for Lower Mainland developer accused of fraud

Mark Chandler will go before the B.C. Court of Appeals early next year.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Most Read