The National Institute for Mental Health estimates that on average 17% of girls suffer from depression annually, and they experience depression more than boys on average. The chances for depression and other mental health issues rises after a traumatic experience.
With this in mind, I focused my Gold Award project on helping teen girls who live in a group residence at Family and Children's Aid (FCA), a local social services organization. FCA explains on its website that, “FCA operates under the belief that children are society's most valuable assets. For over 200 years, FCA has been providing children with safe homes and therapeutic support allowing children to lead healthier lives. FCA believes that seeking help is a sign of strength. We believe excellent care should be available to individuals and families in all walks of life, whenever needed. Effective and professional mental health care makes our children healthier and communities stronger.”
I chose to focus specifically on the girls in the home, as they do not have family or parents available at the moment to care for them. My project addressed how to help these girls feel relaxed and positive by renovating and designing a space the girls can access to cope, manage stress, access resources and just hang out. I collected rugs, artwork and decorative items and raised money to purchase a comfortable new lounge chair, reading lamp and window treatments. I cleaned the room and even planted a garden right outside for the girls to enjoy.
I also researched healthy coping strategies such as how to meditate and do yoga and provided that information in the room along with collecting resources such as yoga mats, art coloring books, essential oils and books so that the girls could find a restful spot to relax and de-stress. This website is also a resource for the girls and other young women in the community to access to learn some of these techniques that will alleviate stress - specifically for teenaged girls.