Donor Spotlight: Variety – the Children’s Charity

This month we are pleased to highlight one of our steadfast supporters, Variety – the Children’s Charity. With the support of funding from Variety – the Children’s Charity, the Young Women’s Resource Center (YWRC) Empowerment Program has been able to provide tools for local girls and young women to continue building their resilience at home through the distribution of Empowerment Kits.

Shortly after Des Moines Public Schools closed in observance of social distancing protocols, the YWRC Empowerment Team acted quickly to get participants supplies they needed to stay strong at home.  We know the home life for many participants was already difficult, and that inability to seek relief in school or at places like the YWRC makes things even harder. Based on the YWRC Youth Experience Survey, we can anticipate some of the challenges our participants are going through now. We estimate that:

  • 750 participants are living with verbal and emotional abuse in the home.
  • 270 participants are living in a home with domestic abuse.
  • 420 participants live in a household where there is substance abuse.
  • 510 participants are living with a caregiver who navigates mental illness.
  • 585 participants are navigating two households due to parent separation or divorce
  • 345 participants were struggling with food and stable housing prior to the pandemic.

The Empowerment Kits were designed around themes normally explored through the Empowerment Workshop during Spring Break, including: empowerment, self-care and skill building. Each kit was comprised of:

  • A YWRC Activity Book full of self-care ideas, crafts, games, and yoga and mindfulness exercises. Two versions were created for different age groups – one for 5th – 7th grade, and the other for 8th – high school participants. (Click grades to see printable activity books.) 
  • A writing kit with a composition notebook, poetry writing prompts and a bundle of colorful pens and pencils
  • Self-care items to practice meditation (aromatherapy supplies, meditation scripts), support health (cough drops, Emergen-C packets, herbal tea bags), and reduce anxiety (fidget toys, coloring pages)
  • Hygiene items such as antibacterial hand soap, tampons/pads and lip balm
  • A variety of snacks
  • Information to stay in touch with Empowerment Program facilitators and access additional community resources. You can find regularly updated community resources on the YWRC website, here!

During the final weeks of March, 58 of these Empowerment Kits were picked up or delivered to clients. As the need for social distancing stretches on, the Empowerment Team is finding new ways to reach participants through virtual groups, social media, and continuing to offer supportive supplies and empowering activities to do at home.

Empowerment Team plans on providing another activity bag to our After School Group participants by the end of May. Each facilitator is creating a bag specific to their groups’ interests, personalities and grade levels. Participants will be given opportunities to provide input on what should be included! Each bag will try to capture our After School Group themes of feminism, reproductive health, self-care, healthy relationships, self-esteem and empowerment.

Funding from Variety – the Children’s Charity provides the YWRC Empowerment Program with supplies and activities for participants in After School and Summer Program groups year-round. We are committed to continuing our mission to empower participants to be strong, self-confident and resilient. The YWRC staff and board are thankful to Variety – the Children’s Charity for making it possible for us to continue showing up for participants in new ways during this time of change.