Girls across B.C. will get equal high school credit for equal extra-curricular effort — all thanks to efforts of a 12-year-old Vancouver Islander.
Under the B.C. government’s external credits program, teens can receive high school graduation credit for approved programs, like Cadets, Scouts, and Girl Guides.
But Kylar Tennart, a 12-year-old Ladysmith Pathfinder, (the 12-14 bracket of Girl Guides) noticed that Girl Guides received only two credits for achieving the Canada Cord, a prestigious award given to guides who put their leadership skills into action. The same was true for the Trailblazer Leadership Gold Award for girls aged 15-17.
Given the difficulty of achieving these awards, Tennart believed Guides deserved more credit. At the “Rally on the Shores” Girl Guides event in Nanaimo, Tennart approached Girl Guides provincial commissioner Diamond Isinger about the situation.
“Kylar came up with the idea and said, ‘I want this change to be made’… I gave her my business card, and I said ‘send me an email with more details’. She emailed immediately after the event that evening. So, I knew she meant business, and she really cared about making this change for other girls,” Isinger said.
Research showed Girl Guides were receiving significantly less credits than organizations that catered to traditionally male audiences, such as Cadets, 4-H, and Scouts — even though their programs require similar learning outcomes, time and effort and align closely with the new provincial curriculum.
“There’s a lot of focus on personal growth, and having a growth mindset where you’re constantly trying to improve yourself, to discover new things, and challenge yourself. That’s what we’re all about,” Isinger said. “I think it’s terrific. We’re always looking for more attention for the amazing contributions our girls make through the program.”
Presented with those findings, and right on time for the new school year, the B.C. Ministry of Education reacted. Effective Sept. 1, Girl Guides will receive four credits for achieving the Canada Cord, and the Trailblazer Leadership Award, for a total of 8 possible graduation credits, which is equivalent to two high school classes and in line with the credit given similar programs.
For Tennart, this development has come as a big surprise. She said she didn’t expect the government to listen to her idea at all.
“I thought that they wouldn’t approve of it,” she said. “I have a lot of emotions right now. It feels good because I know that I’m changing something.”
The change could potentially impact thousands of girls in B.C. as the Girl Guides are seeing increased enrolment across the province.
Currently, the Girl Guides are looking for adult women to volunteer as Guide leaders. Some B.C. communities have large wait lists to join Girl Guides because demand is high, and there is not enough volunteer capacity to meet demand. No experience is required. The Girl Guides will provide training, and have flexible volunteer hours.
“We’re doing a lot of exciting things as an organization,” Isinger said. “There are a lot of communities that are growing in B.C. very quickly. Lots of new families are moving to those communities, and lots of children are being born in those communities… We’re always trying to find those inspiring, amazing women to be those champions.”