Chrysalis group co-ordinator Amie Dreyer (back row, second from left) and sexual assault counsellor Jane McGowan (front row, third from left) with group members (back, from left) Ella Green, Penny Wilson, (front, from left) Ivori McGlone, Asha McClennan and Ella Pike.
Chrysalis group co-ordinator Amie Dreyer (back row, second from left) and sexual assault counsellor Jane McGowan (front row, third from left) with group members (back, from left) Ella Green, Penny Wilson, (front, from left) Ivori McGlone, Asha McClennan and Ella Pike.

School program makes impact

A unique program to create leadership opportunities and empower disadvantaged adolescent girls is making a huge impact for many students at Byron Bay High School.

The peer-based education and community development program called Chrysalis has been running at the school for the past two years.

About 15 girls are involved in the program ranging in age from 13 to 18.

Last week the group facilitated and ran a workshop at the Cape Byron Steiner School for boys and girls in years nine and 10.

The workshop focused on identifying cycles of abuse between young men and women on the streets of Byron Bay.

Byron Bay High School teacher’s aid and Chrysalis co-facilitator Amie Dreyer said the group was established to provide support for disadvantaged girls and covered issues with bullying, self-esteem, sexual consent, the influence of alcohol and much more.

“We meet each week for a counselling session and what is unique is that the girls run the group themselves,” she said.

“The workshop last week was the third that the girls have delivered outside the school and it was very well received.

“It was the first time the program was delivered to boys.”

Year nine student Penny Wilson said the group had made a huge impact and difference in her life.

“It’s been a great support system to me at a time when I was really struggling and in trouble,” Penny said.

“It’s a place where you can say things in confidence and it’s kids relating to kids, not adults telling kids what to do.

“My self-esteem has really improved and now I know I can do things and not second best myself.”

Sexual assault counsellor with Indigo House in Lismore Jane McGowan also co-facilitates and supports the group.

“It’s wonderful to see the young girls growing so much from this group,” Jane said.

Amie said a similar group would soon start in Nimbin and it was hoped that Mullumbimby High would introduce Chrysalis next year.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have this program introduced into every North Coast school and then throughout New South Wales?

“That’s our dream, that’s our vision.”

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