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Girls Night Out: program a ‘win-win’ for young girls, Acadia students


NEW MINAS - Imagine a room filled with women, half of them university students and the other half girls between ages of eight and 11. Once a week, they bond with each other, and take part in exercises, games and other activities.

Sound like a good idea? It’s called Girls Night Out – an Acadia student-run club open to young girls throughout Kings County, and it’s currently in its third-year.

Girls Night Out was founded by Kellie Shillington, at the time an Acadia education student and now a teacher at Dr. Arthur Hines Elementary School in Hants County.

The free program is supported by New Minas Recreation, but it's essentially “a non-funded volunteer program,” says Shillington.

The program is open to all - any female Acadia students and any girls in Kings County in the right age range.

“I pair them up,” Shillington said. “Some of them have been partners for the past three years.”

Girls Night Out takes place every Friday evening from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., usually at Evangeline Middle School in New Minas and, occasionally, at the Acadia gymnasium depending on availability.

The program, Shillington said, is usually “some kind of physical activity, focusing on fitness and boosting self-esteem and confidence.”

Girls Night Out started small, but according to Shillington, “has really grown in popularity. We’ve tripled in size since we started.”

The Nov. 6 session at EMS included 150 participants – 75 children and 75 buddies.

Laura Parsons is a 2015 NKEC graduate now in her first year at Acadia.

“I got an email about it, inviting any female students who wanted to come and be part of it. I went to a meeting, and it’s gone from there," she said.

“We pair up and play games and do other activities. It’s fun, and a great stress-reducer.”

Fourth-year Acadia student Cailin Wilson is in her second year with the program. Her buddy for the past two years has been Halle Parker, who is almost 11 and a Grade 6 student at EMS.

“I love this, it’s so much fun, and it’s only two hours on a Friday night. It’s only a short time, but it’s the highlight of the week, for us and for our buddies," she said.

“It’s great for us university students to get a break from school.”

And, from her perspective, “I get to channel my ’inner kid’.”

Parker said she first heard about Girls Night Out from a friend.

“Her student teacher told her about it, and she told me. I like that there are so many activities, lots of variety – and it’s all fun,” she said.

Parker - who particularly enjoyed a bowling trip - says she loves the program.

“We never do the same thing two nights in a row,” Wilson added. “It’s always different.”

For Wilson and Parker, this year is a little bittersweet.

“This is our last year. Halle will be too old next year, and I’m graduating. We’re planning to make the best of it in the time we have left," said Wilson.

Shillington noted that, as a non-funded program, Girls Night Out is always looking for donations. Anyone wishing to make a donation, or seeking more information on the program, can contact John Ansara at New Minas Recreation at 902-681-6577.

Sound like a good idea? It’s called Girls Night Out – an Acadia student-run club open to young girls throughout Kings County, and it’s currently in its third-year.

Girls Night Out was founded by Kellie Shillington, at the time an Acadia education student and now a teacher at Dr. Arthur Hines Elementary School in Hants County.

The free program is supported by New Minas Recreation, but it's essentially “a non-funded volunteer program,” says Shillington.

The program is open to all - any female Acadia students and any girls in Kings County in the right age range.

“I pair them up,” Shillington said. “Some of them have been partners for the past three years.”

Girls Night Out takes place every Friday evening from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., usually at Evangeline Middle School in New Minas and, occasionally, at the Acadia gymnasium depending on availability.

The program, Shillington said, is usually “some kind of physical activity, focusing on fitness and boosting self-esteem and confidence.”

Girls Night Out started small, but according to Shillington, “has really grown in popularity. We’ve tripled in size since we started.”

The Nov. 6 session at EMS included 150 participants – 75 children and 75 buddies.

Laura Parsons is a 2015 NKEC graduate now in her first year at Acadia.

“I got an email about it, inviting any female students who wanted to come and be part of it. I went to a meeting, and it’s gone from there," she said.

“We pair up and play games and do other activities. It’s fun, and a great stress-reducer.”

Fourth-year Acadia student Cailin Wilson is in her second year with the program. Her buddy for the past two years has been Halle Parker, who is almost 11 and a Grade 6 student at EMS.

“I love this, it’s so much fun, and it’s only two hours on a Friday night. It’s only a short time, but it’s the highlight of the week, for us and for our buddies," she said.

“It’s great for us university students to get a break from school.”

And, from her perspective, “I get to channel my ’inner kid’.”

Parker said she first heard about Girls Night Out from a friend.

“Her student teacher told her about it, and she told me. I like that there are so many activities, lots of variety – and it’s all fun,” she said.

Parker - who particularly enjoyed a bowling trip - says she loves the program.

“We never do the same thing two nights in a row,” Wilson added. “It’s always different.”

For Wilson and Parker, this year is a little bittersweet.

“This is our last year. Halle will be too old next year, and I’m graduating. We’re planning to make the best of it in the time we have left," said Wilson.

Shillington noted that, as a non-funded program, Girls Night Out is always looking for donations. Anyone wishing to make a donation, or seeking more information on the program, can contact John Ansara at New Minas Recreation at 902-681-6577.

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