Girls’ retreat holding onto second place


The district is proving once again how supportive it is.
The “I Am Awesome! (And I Know It!)” self-esteem retreat for young women put out a call for votes as it competes for funding in the Aviva Community Fund competition.
And with the community’s support, the retreat sits in second place in its funding category with more than 10,000 votes so far—about 1,000 ahead of third place.
“We’re so happy to start off Week 2 of the competition in second place,” enthused retreat director Renée Martin-Brown.
But she noted they’re going to have to “think outside of the box” in order to get some new votes this week as many of their supporters already have placed their 18 votes.
Martin-Brown noted the voting has changed since the retreat last took part in the competition in 2013, when it ultimately captured the $45,000 grand prize.
“Every person gets 18 votes, and they can use them all up in one day and all for one project,” she explained, stressing it is does not require daily voting.
Martin-Brown also said people can register each e-mail address they have in order to vote.
“It doesn’t take long to register—just a couple minutes, then place your votes, and you’re done.”
As stated, each registered participant can use their 18 votes at any time from now until Oct. 28.
The 15 ideas that receive the most votes in each of the two funding levels (five from each idea category) will become finalists.
“We would love to secure a top-five finish and win $5,000 for our 2017 program,” Martin-Brown said.
“If we make the top five, on top of winning the $5,000, our idea will go on to a panel of judges to see if we can, once again, be a grand-prize winner like we were in 2013,” she added.
Martin-Brown noted the retreat is a four-day weekend experience that nurtures and develops self-esteem while covering areas such as leadership, bullying, positive body image, peer pressure, confidence building, exploring emotions, and media influences.
The participants discover more about themselves while participating in various arts-based workshops throughout the weekend.
These include drama, music, visual arts, yoga, creative writing, self-esteem education, and Internet safety—all presented by professional artists and instructors.
Coming off the heels of her fourth retreat last month at Sunny Cove Camp here, Martin-Brown said it’s more important than ever for her to find funding to keep the program going.
“The program is really making a difference in the lives of these girls,” she stressed.
But it takes money to run the retreat, which saw 70 girls take part this year.
Martin-Brown doesn’t charge a fee to attend but participants were asked to raise a minimum of $300 and also encouraged to participate in group fundraising projects.
Used as a “pay it forward” incentive for girls who will be attending in future years, this year’s fundraising totalled $17,000.
But Martin-Brown warned the retreat needs more funding in order to maintain its quality and effectiveness.
“Thank you to each one of you that have voted, shared, and helped us to spread the word about the Aviva Community Fund competition and the ‘I Am Awesome! [And I Know It!]’ retreat,” she remarked.
“You are all awesome.”
For more information about the program, visit
To vote, visit