GORE BAY—It’s befitting to say that April 14 wasn’t just a Good Friday, it was a great one for those who participated in the 2 Blue Girlz’ Easter Hop at My Ol’ Blues in Gore Bay.
The well attended event was organized by the girls who are part of this season’s Tweeny Project including April Torkopoulos, Alex Wilson-Zegil, Bella Jefkins and Willow Fogal. Assisting and directing in the preparation for the activities was Kathy Antonio, who runs the program for girls age 9 – 14.
“We came up with the idea at our first meeting of the season,” said Ms. Torkopoulos, who is the senior of the group and a founding member of the 2 Blue Girlz brand. She has been part of the Tweeny Project for all 9 seasons (since 2013) and is an acting mentor for the other members.
“Originally we wanted to do the Manitoulin Trade Fair. We also thought of another fashion show, but there wasn’t enough time to do everything,” elaborated Ms. Jefkins, who is also a senior with eight seasons under her belt. This year she has taken on the role of assistant in training with the intention of becoming a mentor for future groups.
“We came up with different activities that we thought would be fun and were Easter themed,” added Ms. Fogal, who recently joined the program along with Ms. Wilson-Zegil out of interest in becoming part of the brand they enjoy wearing.
The Easter Hop offered an assortment of fun crafts, games and Easter themed refreshments, as well as a ‘Jelly Bunny Guessing Contest’ where participants placed bets on how many were in the jar. Included in the line-up was face painting, nail painting, a bunny ring toss, jelly bean bracelet making, card making, make-your-own bunny mask, make-your-own wildflower planter, photos with the Easter bunny, pin the tail on the bunny and of course cookie decorating (which was the most popular by far with only a few left).
Visitors also had the opportunity to take advantage of a 50 percent off sale on all in-stock 2 Blue Girlz designs, which turned out to be a very popular promotion.
“Part of the event’s purpose was to help clear out old stock and make room for new designs,” noted Ms. Antonio, who also mentioned that they were left with plenty of space.
The main objective of the Tweeny Project is to educate young girls on the creative and manufacturing process of making clothing, as well as to produce designs for their 2 Blue Girlz brand. However, it is also actively geared to introducing them to the world of business. An intricate part of the program is learning how to apply acquired skills in a practical and professional manner.
When asked about financial planning, the girls explained that to help offset the cost of the event, they decided to make the Easter Hop a fund raiser by charging a minimal fee (50 cents) for each activity.
Other sources of funding come from the sale of used books in the foyer of My Ol’ Blues, as well as contributions made by local groups and events such as the Gore Bay Christmas Market. These proceeds help facilitate the Tweeny Project which is otherwise a complimentary program.
We asked the group what their thoughts were after the event and what they felt was learned from the experience.
The girls collectively agreed, “we enjoyed the responsibility and work to make our own event happen.”
Ms. Jefkins added, “we had to think about how to make each activity work and we learned that prep time is key.”
The girls also commented on the overall positive affect that being part of the program has had on them. “When you’re promoting something, you have to talk to people to sell your product,” said Ms. Torkopoulos, “It brings you out of your shell.”
“When someone asks about your clothing you can talk about how you designed it,” said Ms. Jefkins.
The girls concurred that they are able to express their personality in what they do and especially enjoyed the aspect of being in control of their own style.
Building people skills and increasing confidence are just two of the benefits that these girls have received from being part of the Tweeny Project. It also seems that by being included in the decision of what their clothing will look and feel like, they have gained an increased sense of self that is vital to producing empowered individuals.
In conclusion, the venture was clearly an enriching one for these young girls, as they not only learned about the complexities of organizing an event, but were able to grow together and achieve a new level of success and cooperation.
“There is certainly potential to have a second annual Easter Hop,” said Ms. Antonio.
The group, along with Ms. Antonio, acknowledged that a future goal is to have an organized list at the beginning of the season, of all the events and activities they would like to host. That way they would be able to plan ahead and start promotions earlier. For now, they are working on the next set of summer workshops including an intermediary level course for returning participants.
Lastly, the girls would like to thank everyone who attended and especially the volunteers who lent a helping hand. A big thank you to Heather Jefkins, Cassie Fogal, Karyn Chandler, Jeanette Mercer, Mike Zegil and Michael Bailey.
If you like supporting youth programs and want to find out more about how to get involved or make a donation, please contact Kathy Antonio by phone at 705-282-1101 (local) or 1-800-230-6545, or by e-mail at email@example.com. The 2 Blue Girlz designs are also always available for purchase in-store at 7 Phipps Street in Gore Bay or online at www.myolblues.com.