Lending a helping hand

Local author Tammie Leonard speaks to a packed crowd at Help Her Up, a YWCA fundraiser for two youth events to be held in 2019. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

From childhood to adulthood, author Tammie Leonard has always had someone to turn to for support.

However, the Prince Albert writer says that isn’t always the case for young women today. Leonard officially unveiled her latest book, ‘Note to Self … You are Amazing’, during Help Her Up, a YWCA fundraiser on Thursday with the goal of helping young women find acceptance and confidence.

“I am a firm believer that with the support of the people around you, you can rise above (those challenges),” Leonard said afterwards. “We can ‘help her up’ and we do those things through our voice and through our positive words.”

Leonard isn’t relying on just words though. On Thursday, 100 per cent of her book sale proceeds were donated to two local youth events: “Power of Being a Girl” and “Strength of Being a Boy.”

Leonard said familiar problems like insecurity and anxiety have been made worse by the increase in social media use. She’s hopeful conferences like these will help young women and men become more comfortable with who they are, and more confident they can handle the challenges their teenage years hold.

“The bar seems to be set very high for them sometimes, and at some point you have to say, I am enough,” Leonard explained. “I am perfect the way I am. I don’t have to fit someone else’s image.”

Leonard added that schools and local organizations like the YWCA play a major role in helping young women navigate those challenges.

In the YWCA’s case, they’re sponsoring both Power of Being a Girl” and “Strength of Being a Boy,” with the hope of creating more confident and independent youth.

Past conferences have included things like a female mechanic coming in and teaching the young women in attendance how to check the oil and change the tires on a car.

YWCA executive director Donna Brooks said it’s common to see young women struggling with inadequacy or the feeling that they just don’t belong. The youth event is one way they’re trying to change that.

“It’s really important to tell them they’re okay and teach them skills and give them things that will empower them,” Brooks said.

Local women didn’t hesitate to come out and help the YWCA in that cause. All proceeds from Thursday’s event went towards funding the two youth events, and Brooks said it’s encouraging to see that support.

Although there are challenges ahead, she’s optimistic that with continued support, they can help young women find support and encouragement when they need it most.

“I think we’re heading in the right direction, as long as we keep doing stuff like this,” she said.

The ninth annual “Power of Being a Girl” and “Strength of Being a Boy” youth conferences will be held on Jan. 18-19. The conferences are free for youth from ages 12-14.