Students Caitlin Robinson (left), Ashleigh Atkinson (centre) and Sarah Marland (right) with Northern Rivers Area Health sexual assault councillor Jane McGowen (second from left) and Byron High teacher’s aid Amie Dreyer (second from right).
Students Caitlin Robinson (left), Ashleigh Atkinson (centre) and Sarah Marland (right) with Northern Rivers Area Health sexual assault councillor Jane McGowen (second from left) and Byron High teacher’s aid Amie Dreyer (second from right). Jacklyn Wagner

Girls navigate rite of passage

THE rite of passage for young men and women is never easy but a group of young girls at Byron High School has found a way to navigate what they call 'The Game' and come out the other side with their self-esteem still intact.

It began a year-and-a-half ago when a group of girls wanted to change what goes on between boys and girls, and the way girls treat each other.

They took their idea to Byron High School teacher Charlotte Allen and teacher's aid Amie Dreyer, and the Chrysalis Group was born.

The group meets every Tuesday and talks about issues such as grief, anger management, self-esteem, body image, communication, and bullying.

“We invited Jane McGowen along from Indigo House to be the counsellor present,” Ms Allen said.

“The reason why it has continued and become so strong is because it is run by the girls for the girls.”

The girls have created a peer-based learning workshop which covers topics such as healthy relationships which they have taken out to other schools.

Last Friday Years 9 and 10 girls from the group presented the workshop to Years 9 and 10 girls from Nimbin Central School.

Byron High student Sarah Marland, 15, said it was a very special experience.

“It opened our minds to the way girls can be treated and to stand up for ourselves,” she said.

Caitlin Robinson, 16, said it was good to know she wasn't alone.

“It stops them (boys) from having the control over us,” Byron High student Ashleigh Atkinson, 16, said. “And it also tries to teach the girls not to just hear rumours and start bitching about other girls.”

According to Amie Dreyer the feedback from Nimbin was extremely positive. “They said it was emotionally powerful,” she said.

Ms Dryer and Ms McGowen want to take the program out to more schools, but need funding to expand it.



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