Twins Hailey and Holli, who have been part of theROC since they were in Grade 4, are now 21 years old and to this day, think the organization is great for local youth.
Holli, now a young woman who’s aged out of the programming theROC offers, reflects on how impactful it was to her as a little girl. “We had a lot of siblings, but we had to try to get out and make friends. So that was at a point in our life where we needed to be out in the community.”
Her sister agrees, sharing how theROC became an important part of their lives, offering a sense of belonging and understanding that they had not found elsewhere.
“One of our friends decided to tell us about theROC and all the programming and support it has to offer, and told us to come to theROC and so we did, and we loved it. We kept going back ever since.”
A Safe Space
Finding a comfort zone is crucial for the healthy development of any individual, but it is especially important for teen girls.
There are countless physical, emotional and social changes that can be challenging to navigate. And they may face pressure to conform to societal expectations and stereotypes, while dealing with body image issues, struggling with relationships, and experiencing stress from school or family.
Having somewhere they can be themselves, express their feelings without judgment, and connect with others who understand their experiences can provide young women with a sense of comfort, validation and support.
And that’s exactly what they both found at theROC.
When the girls first began, they took advantage of ClubROC, an after-school program that provided a safe and structured environment for youth to engage in educational, recreational and social activities. Here, they had access to homework help, tutoring, mentoring and skill-building designed to help them and other students succeed.
They also attended other programming at theROC, including Girls ROC It. They went on various trips, attended paint nights, and then, when it opened, began going to the youth centre after school just to hang out with their friends. For them, it was a safe escape from their daily stressors.
Now that they’re young women, they can look back and reflect on the impact the programming has had on their lives holistically.
“We learned about home dynamics, life skills, how to cook and clean with Club ROC, and interview prep,” says Holli. “They contributed to giving us life skills we may not have learned at school or in the community.”
Both twins are quick to point out how critical it is that theROC places such an emphasis on meeting youth where they’re at. And for the girls, this means emotionally, as well.
“Each week, they would check in on us and that was so important,” says Holli. “To know we had someone other than our close family to listen to us was very important.”
A Bright Future
When the girls were in Grade 6, they were fully entrenched in the activities at theROC. That summer, they were invited to join a day camp run through Tim Hortons. It was here that Hailey connected with a local police officer. And then, a dream was born.
Now, she’s getting ready to enter her first year of Police Foundations, and she hands over credit to theROC for helping to make this happen.
Holli’s future seems just as bright. She’s heading into her third year of Behavioural Psychology.
“Being heard and valued and knowing that there is life outside of home life was really important,” she says. “And theROC has contributed to the person I am today.”