Calgary girls with disabilities gaining confidence through powerful program

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WATCH: A program focused on girls between the ages of seven to 17 is helping immerse them into brand new experiences. As Jill Croteau reports, they're hoping for some help as they get ready for their latest adventure – Jun 6, 2019

A Calgary charity has expanded its programs to specifically focus on young girls and teens.

Between Friends is an organization that helps people with different abilities have a better sense of belonging. It encourages self-esteem for those with disabilities by engaging them in social and recreational opportunities.

The non-profit has launched a Girl Power program and it’s making a huge difference in the lives of the girls enrolled.

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Payten McBee, 12, said it’s empowering.

“It was hard for me when I found out about my disability but I accepted myself as a regular girl and having a normal life despite having my disability,” she said.

The pre-teen lives with a rare genetic disorder. Her mom, Shannon, said the program has allowed her daughter to embrace her own differences.

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“She finds it so much easier to be herself and she just thrives.”

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The mother and daughter hope society celebrates differences in the same way they do.

“So many people don’t understand she is just a normal kid who has a little bit of differences and does things differently than other kids but she’s super smart, kind and she has a big heart,” Shannon said.

“If you take the chance to get to know them, you’ll see these kids are just amazing.”

“Having this disability in my life isn’t bad for me,” Payten said. “It’s making me a better person because no one judges me they see me as a regular girl.”

Girl Power Sleepover. Supplied

The Girl Power team has launched a fundraiser to help cover costs for its first-ever sleepover. It takes place June 8.

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The group is hoping to raise $1,800 to cover costs that aren’t covered within its regular budget.

The goal? To give the girls a memorable night with an inflatable movie screen, a mobile spa, crafts and yoga.

Girl Power group leader, Penny Coleman, said she wants the one-night event to eventually grow into a summer camp.

“It’s an exciting thing and it’s a new path for us in the Girl Power world and I hope in the future it will expand. Baby steps,” Coleman said.

Shannon and Payten McBee set up tents. Jill Croteau

Payten and her mom are excited for the overnight adventure.

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“She doesn’t spend a lot of time away from us, ever,” Shannon said. “So the Between Friends Girl Power sleepover will be fantastic for her and I don’t have to worry about her.”

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