Wendy started Girls Group with a colleague in 1999. She wanted to provide a safe and supportive space that was accepting of all self-identified girls to be themselves, and to not have to feel pressure to conform to stereotypes. She has always been passionate about the advancement of gender equity.
She envisioned having conversations with girls about topics they had never had the opportunity to discuss: gender stereotypes, media literacy, patriarchy, body image, feminism, women’s history. Although she was in her early 30s when she started the groups, she had vivid memories of her experience as an adolescent girl.
Much of what she experienced was similar to what she was hearing all those years later. She wanted girls to have what she didn’t have – a place to process and explore the context of those experiences. She was going on a hunch, and in the last 21 years, hundreds of girls have shown her hunch was on the mark.
She hopes in a small way Girls Group helps girls to realize they are not alone in their struggles, they have a voice, and they have the power to create positive change.
Wendy loves working with the girls who constantly enlighten her, inspire her, and display courage, strength and resilience. She greatly appreciates being part of a supportive, giving community that reinforces the importance of this work. Wendy is currently on leave from her 17 year position as a Youth and Family Substance Use Counsellor. In addition to being the Coordinator for Girls Group, she was elected to Courtenay city council in 2018, and is also a Comox Valley Regional district municipal director. She has post-secondary education in Human Services and Women’s Studies.
She has four sons and seven grandchildren. Wendy enjoys kayaking, creating art, performing in community theatre, cooking, writing, and travelling. A new love is cycling on her ebike throughout the beautiful natural environment of the Comox Valley.
Kymme Patrick has a passion for working with and empowering young girls and women. She has engaged hundreds of children and teenagers in the Comox Valley over three decades in theatre activities that build their confidence, their interpersonal skills, helping them find and use their voices to creatively express their developing personalities. She has been a professional actor, director and playwright for 40 years. Arriving in the Comox Valley, her career shifted with the operations of her theatre company, TheatreWorks: acting classes and original play productions.
Theatre is a fun opportunity for inclusion and exploration. I have had the opportunity to work with youth on social-awareness issues that have created understanding and personal growth on topics such as Racism, Sexual Safety, Bullying, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, and Homelessness.
With a compassionate ear and sense of humour, Kymme’s leadership skills have had a profound impact on legions of young people, so many struggling to find their place and path forward.
Kymme graduated from the American Academy of Performing Arts in Pasadena, California and has toured with professional theatre companies such as The Green Thumb Players and Playhouse Theatre. While in Toronto, Kymme worked and performed in theatre, film, and commercials. She also founded her own casting agency and children’s theatre company. She created TheatreWorks Centre For The Performing Arts to provide quality theatre programs for youth and has been instrumental in using theatre as an educational tool with schools and organizations in the Comox Valley. In 2015, Kymme was presented with Theatre BC’s Donna Lamb Award for her outstanding work with youth and contributions to the development of community theatre on Vancouver Island.
Avis O’Brien (Nalaga / Kaaw Kuuna) is a Haida / Kwakwakw’wakw is a land based cultural empowerment facilator. Her passion is assisting in positive identity development, building allies, empowering girls and women to step into their own potential, and breaking cycles. She is the mother of 2 beautiful children and loves being a mother. On her down time she loves to weave, dance, sing, ride bikes and climb rocks.
Amy moved to the Comox Valley from Ontario 13 years ago and has been working with Girls Group for more than 10 years. She is consistently amazed by the resiliency, courage and strength shown by the participants in Girls Group as well as the skills and knowledge shown by the women she works with.
Amy considers the safe and supportive environment which Girls Group provides its participants an essential part of healthy development through the ups and downs of adolescence and young adulthood. She is strongly committed to the feminist principles that Girls Group is based on and believes in a strengths based approach to her work.
In her time off, Amy enjoys gardening, wildcrafting, cooking, yoga, the great outdoors, her dog, her friends and more recently playing the fiddle.