Launch Party

On September 16, 2021, Wonderfully Made will host its inaugural launch and information session. This online event features: meeting the founders, information about the program, prizes and more.

Register Now for the Wonderfully Made Launch Party

Featuring: prizes, information, and meet the founders

Why Wonderfully Made?

Wonderfully Made is a Black-led grassroots organization, led by youth that aims to cultivate emotional, mental and career wellbeing for Black girls and women.  Wonderfully Made is designed to support girls and women build their self-esteem, cultural and self-identity, and guide them through their careers, professional and personal lives.  The leaders seek to reinforce the importance of representation and supporting girls and women to see themselves reflected through the program.

Wonderfully Made Girl creator, Adrianna Perryman found the inspiration for this program through her work with the Kisaruni girls in Kenya.  Their residential program established an unique mentorship program with the senior high school girls, “mamas’ would mentor and nurture younger junior girls entering the system.  Similarly, Wonderfully Made recruits women ages 16 and up to conduct workshops and programming for younger girls from 12 to 16.  The program ends each year with a girls led conference and overnight retreat.

Faith Buchanan, Justine Allen, and Tracy Amponsah are Board Members of Wonderfully Made. Through their expertise as artists, social workers, educators and psychotherapists, the organization became to be. Justine Allen believed that this program would support the health and wellbeing of Black girls.  She writes, “for myself, growing up in spaces that lacked healthy representation deeply impacted my self-esteem and self-worth. There is so much power in feeling seen, understood, and supported in a safe space. Having the opportunity to be part of this program as a mentee would have been so meaningful to me as a young girl through early adulthood”. Creative Director and future educator, Faith Buchanan described art as a safe space for girls, and expressed I am incredibly passionate about mentoring black youth and being the role model, I wish I had as a young artist”.  Tracy Amponsah is a seasoned case manager in her career and shares her hope for Wonderfully Made and the youth and families who would benefit.  She exclaims, “This project is something I wish I had more of growing up as a young black womxn, who is first generation”.

Wonderfully Made Pilot

Wonderfully Made is a piloted program funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and supported by the Durham AIDS Committee. The DAC focuses on supporting youth and adults impacted by AIDS, and fits nicely with the vision and mission statement for Wonderfully Made.

Ontario Trillium Foundation- Youth Innovations Fund

The OTF provided a three-year test grant to the youth-led and driven program. Through the grant, the organizers are provided funding that helps the organization to realize its goals. The funding includes staffing, workshops and webinars, advertisement, an annual retreat, and yearly youth conference.

Pillars of Change

Wonderfully Made has four pillars that guide the work within the team. and in the program. The pillars guide how youth are supported throughout the program, and how our mentors and elders guide the mentees.

Our stories

Help to guide the passion underlying Wonderfully Made, and the vision developed by the founders and the community.

Launch Agenda and Activities

Wonderfully Made founders will host and guide the agenda and activities for the launch party. The founders will invite people to participate in the group or remain in listen-only mode. The launch party features poll questions, prizes and knowledge questions.

Topics covered

Our team will explore our vision, mission, and pillars. We will discuss our programming and upcoming workshops. and our annual retreat designed for youth.

The Mentorship Experience

The Importance of Creating Wonderfully Made Program

Young Black girls experience many barriers at the individual, cultural, and systemic/structural levels. Such barriers can take the form of negative feedback from others, which may take the form of a lack of identity support via social media, or systemic oppression.  As a result, they may feel disconnected from their peers, schools, communities, and even their families. The impact of this can be devastating. Even in milder cases it can lead to lowered self-esteem and self-confidence and in turn low school success rates. However, not only can there be more severe impacts, but these milder issues can snowball into far more debilitating issues. For example, low school success rates lead to fewer career opportunities and higher rates of criminalization, while increase trauma, stress, anxiety, and depression can lead to higher risks of mental health concerns and unwellness. A lack of self-esteem and self-confidence can also make young Black girls more vulnerable to abusive interpersonal relationships and even community violence and abuse.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?

Marianne Williams

Our Beneficiaries are our Communities

A beneficiary is described as the person who benefits from and experiences joy, wealth, resources, and access from a service, program, or intervention.

Our program recognizes that many young girl and women are impacted by racism, stereotypes, gender-based violence, biases, and discrimination. Thus, we seek to provide these young girls and women with mentorship, leadership, programs, and interventions that build resiliency, courage, options, and strength. Our Beneficiaries experience an intersection of identities, social location, and experiences. We have included a broad overview. We want to be cognizant of exclusion and want to include girls who fit this main description. Our curriculum content is primarily based on African-centric, Indigenous, and culturally-informed practices and belief and value systems. The primarily beneficiaries are Black girls between the ages of 12 and 29 years in the Durham Region and surrounding areas. Our mentors are young women between the ages of 16 and 29 years who fit their own criteria, willingness to grow. Our mentors and mentees have a shared connection of lived experiences. They have shared, lived experience of being in the child welfare and being involved in the youth justice system. We also will create content and provide leadership opportunities for Black and racialized girls who identity as members of the LGBTQ+ (Rainbow) community. Their shared commonality/dreams include the opportunity to grow/share their talents, be accepted, and feel loved and respected by others.

Mentorship

Young women who will have access to mentors, counsellors and life coaches who can support their development from a group to individual format. These young women will receive guidance, support, and knowledge that will empower change and holistic healing in their lives. We use holistic approaches because we see the body as interconnected with the mind and spirits. Our physical bodies are supported through nutrition, exercise, emotional expressions, healthy experiences, and social connections. We believe that our workshop must focus on education, leadership, cultural awareness, historical events, and spoken word. Furthermore, our spirits—the birthplace of our intuition, faith, and soul—is supported through workshops that help us generate the power within. When young women between the ages of 16 and 29 years feel prepared and have expressed a desire to contribute to the Wonderfully Made program, they are encouraged to join our core group member, project coordinator, and mentors in various program events. This may consist of attending or facilitating an in-school workshop, facilitating a Wonderfully Made support group, organizing an outreach project, and one-on-one sessions with a mentee. 

All workshop sessions are closed with a circle activity. Elders and mentors offer blessings of gratitude, hope, and resiliency to the mentees. The mentees highlight what they have learned, and how the group has supported them. Elders and healers are an important part of the session as a way to pass down blessings and hope to the generation, and the mentors and mentees who walk in their path. Each session always begins with land acknowledgement. Elders provide guidance to the mentees by providing experience to the circle.

Several of our group norms can be summarized in acronym the PREBaN.

The ‘P’ refers to staying present, which refers to engaging in active listening. Since some of the group conversations might be difficult and emotional, being supportive through patience and listening is one of the crucial goal of group work.

The ‘R’ refers to being respectful, which include the practice of cultural humility. This requires people to avoid generalizing about one’s own cultural norms.

The ‘E’ stands for staying engaged, which means being non-judgemental and allowing members to explain their unique experience.

The ‘B’ stands for understanding one’s own biases.

The ‘N’ represents the non-judgemental approach that we must always use. The facilitator’s role will be providing support, advice, guidance, motivation, emotional support, and role modeling.

We are Building Mentors who Lead

There are seven qualities that a mentor should have:

  1. Relevant expertise or knowledge,
  2. Enthusiasm for sharing that expertise,
  3. A compassionate and respectful attitude,
  4. An eagerness to invest in others
  5. The ability to give honest and direct feedback,
  6. The ability to engage in reflective listening and empathize, and
  7. The willingness to be a sponsor.

Relevant Expertise or Knowledge

            One of the key qualities that a mentor should have is relevant expertise or knowledge. For example, a mentee who needs help with math requires a mentor who is familiar with math. Though a mentor who only has a cursory understanding of math could still make a positive contribution, they may either forward incorrect information that could inhibit or stunt the mentee’s development or provide inefficient support that slows the mentee’s progress. Hence, in such contexts, it is ideal to have a mentor who is an expert in math.

Enthusiasm for Sharing That Expertise

            The relevant expertise and knowledge is critical, it is likewise important that the mentor be enthusiasm stick to share this expertise. For instance, if a mentor has an advanced understanding of science and becomes easily annoyed when offering instruction to a mentee who struggles to comprehend lesson content, then the mentee well likely see the mentor’s frustration and feel as if they are a burden. This could undermine the mentor-mentee relationship.

A Compassionate and Respectful Attitude

            Just as it is important to be enthusiastic about sharing expertise, it is likewise important that mentors adopt a respectful attitude. If a mentor speaks in a way that insults the mentee, this could poison the mentor mentee relationship and create barriers to learning.

Eagerness to Invest in Others

            Possessing an eagerness invest in others is as important as the eagerness to share one’s knowledge or expertise. If a mentor does not recognize that the time they share with a mentee is an investment, they could lose patience with the process. If the mentee observes that the mentor is impatient, this could likewise poison the mentor mentee relationship and again inhibit the mentee’s development.

The Ability to Give Honest and Direct Feedback

            Mentors must also be able to give honest and direct feedback. If a mentee is struggling with understanding a concept and the mentor is reluctant or apprehensive about offering constructive criticism for fear of hurting the mentee’s feelings, this could create a barrier to the mentee’s development.

Reflective Listening and Empathy

            When offering direct feedback, it is likewise vital that the mentor be able to engage in reflective listening and demonstrate empathy. For instance, if the mentee is experiencing a barrier to the learning process and the mentor does not take the time to engage in reflective listening, they may not be able to identify the barrier and develop a solution to overcome that barrier. As a result, mentee’s development may again be inhibited. Likewise, if a mentor does not take the time to empathize with and understand the barrier, they may prove unwilling to develop a solution to it, which could also impede the mentee’s development.

Willingness to Be a Sponsor

            Finally, it is critical that all mentors be willing to be a sponsor. This involves being able to regularly and consistently set aside time to dedicate mentees and honoring the schedule by being present and punctual. If mentees notice that their mentors often cancel there’s scheduled appointments or show up late, then they may infer that they are not a priority to the mentor and that they are not important. This could inadvertently perpetuate many of the barriers that mentees experience and undermine the mentor mentee relationship.

Core Skills

Both mentors and mentees should utilize some core skills in their mentoring partnerships. Such as, encouraging, building trust, active listening, setting boundaries, working towards assigned goals, open door policy and providing constructive feedback.

To learn more about becoming a mentor

Not everyone knows whether they will become a mentor, and whether they can make difference, but it does not mean you can’t try.

Coping with Stigma

Experiences of discrimination are very common amongst Black, Indigenous and Women of colour. Stigma can impede help-seeking and recovery, it can be a threat to social identity. We can cope with stigma by seeking guidance, educating others and challenging others about their stigmatizing attitudes and behaviours.

This workshop will talk about the ways to cope with stigma. The group will be based on facilitating on some of the misunderstandings and media portrayal of Black community that often lead to prejudice attitudes. This behaviour and discrimination can lead to feelings of hopelessness and low self-esteem. The members of the group will learn how stigma profoundly can change how people feel about themselves which result in anxiety and depression. The workshop will offer some of the tips on how to be aware of their attitudes and behaviour. For example, choosing their words carefully, inclusion, and supporting the community.

One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals.”

Michelle Obama

Please watch the following video. Reflect on key information shared in the video and statements that resonated with you or someone you know. Did you experience an “aha moment?”, or a moment where you understood where the speaker was coming from because it resembled your own experience? Why? Discuss what you can do to make a difference in how you perceive information and messages from others. Discuss steps you may take to support mentees who may share a similar experience.

Resilience

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

Maya Angelou

What is Resilience? Resilience is the ability to adapt to life challenges and stressors. We all have resilience. It can emerge at various times in our life. Resiliency occurs when we effectively deal and confront life challenges. As we overcome one challenge, we continue to adapt and grow so we are prepared for the next challenge. Having resilience does not mean that we don’t experience failure and disappointment. Many times, we lose our motivation because our challenges can create barriers and systemic issues that we can’t always fight alone. For example, racism is an example of a systemic issue that can influence our resilience. Many women who are Black, Indigenous and people of colour experience various forms of racism within their lives.

Are the same strategies that help privilege people to overcome on a variety of other life challenges, traumas, and crises also applicable in dealing with racism??

This workshop will focus on the tools on resiliency, as the hardship are inevitable, what counts is the unique ways that people deal with them in terms of moving on or struggling and bouncing back. This workshop will emphasize on understanding the notion of resilience and its importance in life. The facilitator will include the activities and encourage group members to come together and develop a personalized action plan to develop the skills that build resilience. This workshop allows participants to learn by doing and sharing. Therefore, the concept of this workshop is based on active listening and learning, self-assessment activities, demonstrations and individual/group exercises both. 

Our video library

Please watch the following videos. Reflect on key information shared in the video and statements that resonated with you. Did you experience an “aha moment?”, or a moment where you understood where the speaker was coming from because it resembled your own experience? Why? Discuss what you can do to make a difference in how you perceive information and messages from others. Discuss steps you may take to support mentees who may share a similar experience.

Want to learn more? Register in one of our workshops focusing on building resiliency in areas of the self such as self-esteem, mental health, emotional intelligence, and navigating systems.

What is Mindfulness : definition, benifits and practice | toolshero

Mind and Body

This workshop focuses on teaching mentors and mentees about the synergy that can exist between our minds, our spirits, and our bodies. We demonstrate the connection that exists with our thoughts, behaviour and feelings. We discuss healthy ways to channel our thoughts and feelings, create intention and mindfulness, and generating self-love and compassion.

Group Formats

Mentee groups may occur in a 2-3 hour workshop, a day conference from 9 am to 3pm, or over a few weeks.

Mentors, core group members and host organizations create a potential yearly cycle of potential groups and programs, as well as provide flexibility for specific requests for group.

Why do this?

  • Planning our year to provide wholesome and innovative workshops and programs for mentees and mentors
  • Remaining responsive to the community’s needs and requests to build supports for mentees in their community and school.

A Sample plan for a 6-week mentee group:

Sample Topics

WeekTopicActivities
1“I am and I can”In this session, we get to know each other and learn about our unique style and personality.
2“Wonderfully made”In this session, we learn how to identify our strengths and talents, how we can share these with the world, and how we can support other girls to do the same.
3Learning More about You & Girls Just Like YouIn this session, we learn about the accomplishments of many amazing girls around the world, and we learn how we also can do amazing things within our world.  
4The Story is just beginningIn this session, we learn how to tell our story to help and inspire other girls and to tell our story even when it is very hard.  We will learn how to communicate in healthy ways without hurting each other’s feelings.  
5“When times get tough, Breathe”In this session, we learn how to use calming strategies to help us conquer adversities and difficult times in a healthy way.  
6Wonderfully Made Girls Rock!In this session, we close with a celebration and a reminder that we are truly amazing girls inside and out.