It’s International Women’s Day (IWD), a global day of recognition of women’s achievements and a call to action to support women’s rights and advance gender equality.

Here at the YMCA, our call to action is woven into the curriculum of youth leadership programs like TAG (Together as Girls). Just as IWD celebrates the strength of women coming together to make their voices heard, TAG celebrates the strength of young girls coming together in a supportive group to explore their strengths and make a difference in the world.

Emma’s story

“I finally have a place to belong.”

When I was in Grade 1, I was the tallest kid in class and I stood out.  Kids made fun of me, calling me names like “tree“, “giraffe” and “four-eyes”.  Recently, my best friend also started making fun of me. She talked about me behind my back, and made me feel fat and embarrassed.  Our friendship ended because she made me feel horrible all the time.

Being bullied made me feel like an outcast. Most nights I would go home crying and fall asleep sad and lonely. Sometimes, I had thoughts of hurting myself.  But then I found TAG at the Y and a place where I felt safe. At TAG, I could talk about my experiences with other girls who have also been bullied.  I’ve made new friends who accept me for who I am, and I’ve learned not to care what bullies say about me.  I finally have a place to belong.