It began on a verandah in Suffolk Park ten years ago and has now helped transform the lives of around 1,000 ‘at risk’ girls in the northern rivers.
The Chrysalis girls’ program celebrated its tenth birthday last Saturday, with girls from the program, past and present, coming together to celebrate their achievements and support the journey that they are all on.
Director and co-founder Amie Dryer said, ‘We had a number of girls who started in the first program who were there and one even had a six-week-old baby.’
Working as a teachers’ aid at a local high school, Amie had been supporting a number of at risk young women to access support programs, but realised there was something she could also add to support them.
‘We sat on my mum’s back verandah and decided what we needed and then brought in other people,’ said Amie.
‘Chrysalis was created by local teenage girls for all teenage girls – it’s a dynamic, holistic counselling program for ‘at risk’ girls who are passionate about self-empowerment, compassion and the transformation of adversity. The program is voluntary and the girls who attend are very proud and love their program dearly.
‘Through the mediums of group counselling, mindfulness, martial arts, art therapy, yoga and lots of beautiful big emotions the young women attend a session for 1.5 hours each week at a local high school. The girls address issues such as grief and loss, sexual abuse, bullying, social media, body image, substance use, sexuality, domestic violence and lots of other issues that affect young women each day.’
The program operates at a number of local high schools from Ballina to Mullumbimby to Nimbin. However, the challenge is always getting enough funding to keep the project going.
‘Sometimes the schools can scrape some money together to assist with the program but we generally rely on community funding and local businesses supporting the program.’
Part of the day’s celebration was discussing the creative direction of the Chrysalis book, which tells the stories of 22 young women who have or are currently going through the program. All the stories are anonymous and have created another avenue for the young women to tell their stories, create healing and provide support to other women and girls.
‘Some of the stories so brutal,’ said Amie.
‘They really highlight how much isn’t said. I’ve worked with these girls for four years and I think I know a lot about what’s going on in their lives but the amount of information that was in these stories that I didn’t know was staggering.
‘They are really amazing stories and they all come around to triumph against adversity. The girls want the book to be cutting edge and they are really helping drive how it will look,’ said Amie proudly.
‘They hope that there can be more transparency around what its actually like to be a teenage girl and a lot goes on that most people don’t want to know or just simply don’t know. Their hope is that the book can support young girls, parents and the broader community deepen their understanding, educate and build connections.’
If you are interested in finding about more about the Chrysalis program you can visit Amie’s website www.amiedreyer.com or phone Amie on 0437 774 296.