The first time I ever blogged was my first experience with the Cinderella Project which was many years ago. In fact it was so long ago that I used my MySpace to post, like I said a very long time ago!! I went as a guest and was blown away by the amount of young pre-grads that needed help to celebrate such a joyous occasion. In case your not familiar with the Cinderella Project please check out www.thecinderellaproject.com
Over the years I have taken on this project with great effort as I believe that everyone deserves an education and every graduate should be celebrated. It is so crazy to me that graduating from High School now means that one must spend thousands of dollars on dresses, shoes, handbags, hair, make-up , eyelash extensions, limousines, hotel rooms and countless/copious amounts of “luxuries” associated with High School Graduation expectations. It’s no wonder some of the less fortunate teenagers including ones from low income families, refugees, new immigrants etc. simply cannot afford these luxuries.
In a time when some youth may be riddled with anxieties about how they will possibly be able to “keep up” it’s easy to suggest they don’t bother, that they just do what they can do, wear what they can afford, and be happy or even don’t go at all. It’s only February after all, it may even seem a bit early to be bothering with the High School Graduation drama. It’s not! It’s not silly that teens want to be like other teens. It’s unfortunate that most teens want to be accepted by or most liked are the same teens that may or may not contribute to Society later the way they contribute to High School today but for this time period they are the ones looked up to for “what’s what”. It is not easy to be a High School-er today!!!
In steps, the lovely Cindy Given and Heather Mackenzie with their wonderful Cinderella Project team, have made this an experience that these graduates will never forget. When they say “It takes an village to raise a child” these women get it!!!! The first year I volunteered at The Cinderella Project I was so impressed by the amount of volunteers and High School students, but also by how organized these ladies are. Over the years it has gotten bigger, adding Cinderella's to the mix and utilizing a larger space in the Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront. There are many categories to this day and each one has a team of committed volunteers to make it run as smoothly as possible. This is how it works:
A student gets assigned to a “Godmother” or “Godfather” (Godmother to the girls, Godfather to the boys). That volunteer will meet the student at the Pinnacle Hotel for the first time. It can be intimidating for a young person to walk off the elevator and see a big set up with beautiful carousals, photo booth, a DJ. playing all the top 40 music from the 80's, 90's and most recent selections. The volunteer walks the student to the dressing area first, finding them the perfect outfit. The amounts of dresses and suits are amazing and endless. One thing I noticed is how much more the girls have for choice.....perhaps we need a couple more sponsors for tuxes and suits (would be nice). Once they pick their outfit, they get shoes, ties, fedora and/or other hats to choose from, sunglasses, handbags, jewellery including: earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. Also, hair accessories such as tiara's, barrettes etc. etc. Once the outfits and accessories are compiled, the student comes over to our section for hair and make-up. Finishing at the Artona Group Portrait studio www.artona.co, where they get a portrait of themselves all “dolled up”.
The day includes food as well. The near graduatesfeast on all the pizza, pop, chips, cookies etc. that they can. By the end of the day it’s like a little circus in the Ballroom. So exciting and so fun. The youth get to keep the supplies! Yup, the dress, the shoes, the jewellery, suits and so on. They take it home with them and it reminds them that there is hope. It reminds them that someone cares enough to ensure they will get to go to graduation in style. Sure there are bigger things to think about: What will I do with my life after graduation? What will I be? Will I do Post Secondary Education? Work? Not work? Be a Kardashian (wait, is that an option???). But courage is not easy to come by. It comes with being comfortable, which comes with feeling loved, feeling worthy of love and feeling supported. To see some of the parents, the school counsellors, the volunteers, Cindy and Heather; every year giving all of the above is the best feeling anyone could have. It is a reminder that it is in all of us to give to the next generation whatever we can to teach them to be self sufficient and show them that after High School is over they get to be whomever, whatever they would like as long as they work hard, have ambition and stay on track. This world is out there for them to conquer.
My team of dedicated Students as well as Instructors/Stylists’ and friends that volunteered with me to do hair year after year all say the same thing. It’s so rewarding to be a part of this beautiful day. I will never stop volunteering for this event. I hope that everyone who helps me with the hair feels the same, the more the merrier. I couldn’t be more proud of my team of hardworking Angels. I am still in awe of it all!!!! If you are looking for something to volunteer annually for or want to try it out and see if it works for you please do. It really does take a village. We must not forget about the young adults, especially those in need. These days it’s more important than ever to be the change you want to see in the world. Reach out, don’t be afraid of today's youth, be courageous enough to lead by example. You can make a difference by doing so. Everyone wants to have the courage to do what they dream of. Wouldn’t it be nice to think that you may be their inspiration???