Hi Everyone!! It’s been a while since we shared a Little Leaders Series on the blog and I am SO excited to have Vicky and Charlotte from GIRLS CLUB take over the blog today! If you are new to our Little Leaders Series, be sure to check out some of our previous blogs here.
Let’s get right into it, welcome to the blog Vicky and Charlotte, take it away!!
My daughter, Charlotte, is noticeably different from other kids. She doesn’t speak, has restricted fine/gross motor control, and – though loving + socially curious – can’t interact with other kids in ways that they know how to respond to. Her way of being in the world is so different from other kids, that we obviously, and, at times, painfully, just don’t fit in.
I noticed this several years ago when Charlotte was around 3 years old. Coming out of hibernation after some serious medical blows and an unexpected autism diagnosis, we tried, little by little, to integrate into the world. Sadly, many of the programs I wanted Charlotte to be a part of would not accept her because she can’t speak and has difficulty following instructions. Even so-called “inclusive” programs deemed us “too disabled” to attend. (I remember an “adapted for special needs” dance class that turned us away. And, for what? Charlotte *can* dance!).
Over and over, the message was clear: you’re not welcome here. You don’t belong here. You’re not “good enough” to attend. I felt heartbroken, isolated, victimized … and, quite frankly, outraged.
I decided to do something about it, for my daughter and girls like her, and that’s how GIRLS CLUB was born.
GIRLS CLUB is a non-profit social club for girls with neurological or developmental differences. Girls like my Charlotte who are exceptional and different, and struggle to make friends or participate in mainstream programs or activities. This includes a wide range of girls with autism, ADHD, anxiety disorders, Down Syndrome, and rare genetic or unknown conditions.
GIRLS CLUB is about fun + connection. We have theme parties, field trips, arts + crafts, movie nights, yoga, and much more. But it’s not the events or activities that make GIRLS CLUB special, it’s the culture and community we’ve created.
We now have over 600 girls in four different chapters throughout BC. Across them all, we take care to ensure our members don’t get the messages I was getting years ago. Just the opposite, in fact. Our girls don’t just feel at home + accepted at GIRLS CLUB – they feel downright celebrated.
Girls who didn’t fit in anywhere else fit in at GIRLS CLUB.
Girls who have never had a friend in their lives have friends at GIRLS CLUB.
Girls whose anxiety is so high they are afraid to leave their homes come to GIRLS CLUB.
Girls who are the outcasts or oddballs at school get to be the “cool kids” at GIRLS CLUB.
Girls who feel insecure, sad, or lonely hold their heads higher and walk taller at GIRLS CLUB.
What’s more, the parents who felt alone and isolated no longer feel alone. One dad said to me: “Thank you for doing this. We can’t go anywhere else; we can only come here.” Another parent said: “She’s here, she’s happy, she’s having fun. You don’t know how *big* this is to us.”
But I do know how big it is… because I am them. All our GIRLS CLUB girls are them – just kids looking to fit in, have friends, have fun, have community.
And we have created that community! When I started GIRLS CLUB, I was funding events from my own pocket, and hoping I could gather about a dozen girls to form a social circle. The fact that it quickly transcended my expectations – growing so quickly – has meant changes I wasn’t anticipating, like the need for a steady group of volunteers + regular donations.
Donations are so critical to us because we want GIRLS CLUB to be barrier-free to our families, and not just another thing they have to shell out for because their kids are different. Parents of kids with additional needs are already financially burdened by therapy and tutoring costs, and we strongly believe that making a friend shouldn’t have a price tag.
So that’s our story. And there are thousands of families like mine … And, today, thanks to the dedication of our volunteers (we’re 100% volunteer run), we are finding each other, loving each other, and healing each other through GIRLS CLUB.
If you agree that our mission is important, please help us continue to celebrate and connect our girls through a donation. We are 100% volunteer-led + 100% reliant on donations.
And please connect with us, spread the word, and maybe even consider starting a Chapter in your town. Our girls are everywhere, and they deserve a chance to connect with each other. You can find out more about us here:
With love and thanks,