Making a difference in the youth within the community is exactly what Samantha Franklin and Carly Skead have been striving to do ever since creating The Changers in early April this year.
And they’re seeing outstanding results already.
“So many of (the girls) now want to be motivational speakers and child and youth workers and all this other stuff,” said Franklin, 21. “And they have goals and dreams, and a lot of them told us that they didn’t have that before they joined the program.”
Franklin and Skead founded The Changers, a non-profit organization, in hopes of encouraging kids to be difference makers and role models in whatever environment they find themselves in.
One of the events The Changers are most well known for is S.W.A.G., a weekly get-together with young girls in the community.
“S.W.A.G. stands for social wellness activities for girls,” said Kaity Walker, a facilitator with the organization. “Every Friday night, S.W.A.G. is run to encourage girls to be themselves. It’s a strength based program focused on self esteem, confidence and leadership skills.”
Even with their busy schedules, the full-time child and youth worker students have made S.W.A.G. happen every seven days.
“Every Thursday night we scramble to get everything ready for Friday,” said Skead, 20. “Everything is last minute. We get our supplies on Thursday in order to hand out self care kits for the girls at S.W.A.G. and also to provide snacks and drinks.”
And though they’ve had a bit of help from donations, the girls from The Changers frequently have to give a little more than just their time.
“We’ve received, I think, $350 from our GoFundMe page,” said Skead. “And we’ve probably spent, like, $200 from our own pockets.”
The Changers isn’t just some extra curricular project Franklin and Skead created for extra marks. It’s the real deal, and they’re passionate about pursuing a future with the organization.
“I see it going forever,” said Franklin. “I want it to be a full-time thing. I want to have a community centre and be in different places across Ontario, maybe. The main base will be in Ottawa, but there will be different chapters in different places.”
There are big aspirations for the far future, but the girls are also bringing new ideas to the table for the coming months.
“We’re going to be starting in January,” said Franklin. “A youth action team and planning a self esteem retreat for some of the girls that were in the S.W.A.G. program. For them to get involved and fundraise and stuff like that, it’ll give them a chance to develop some leadership skills.”
It’s been hectic for everyone in The Changers as of late – planning events, speaking at local elementary schools and bringing a dozen girls to We Day in Ottawa – but it’s important to realize what a huge impact they’re making.
“We’re seeing (the girls) grow into something they didn’t think they could be,” said Franklin.