Nicky Van de Geest, Ivy Tu’ua-Jeffries and Hayley Nam, part of the Shine Girl Nelson team facilitating confidence and growth in girls. Photo: Jenny Nicholson.

Shine Girl Nelson is changing young lives


Shine Girl Nelson gave a 15-year-old the ability to talk again. Because of extreme trauma, the student had been unable to speak for some time.

Throughout the eight-week Shine Girl course run at her college she could only communicate through writing, gestures, and facial expression.

At the end of course graduation she said her first words for a very long time. She said: “Thank you.”

A few months later the Shine facilitators were invited to her birthday party where they saw her laughing and talking.

The eight-week local course is a personal development programme that aims to bring hope and purpose by helping the girls recognise their strengths and the power of their choices.

Shine Girl Nelson’s coordinator, Nicky Van de Geest, says she has seen an epidemic of low self-esteem in girls and remembered back to her early teen years when she felt the same.

At one Shine Girl session last term, leaders surveyed girls and the results showed that 91 per cent of the participants thought negatively 95 per cent of the time.

One of the tools Shine Girl gives girls is the ability to see their own strengths and to use that knowledge to look at life more positively.

“We have had girls who have literally said, in feedback form, that they have chosen life because of Shine,” says Nicky.

Students are referred to Shine Girl by staff at their schools and groups are limited to 10 students.

In the past six months 200 girls have participated in Shine Girl Nelson.

Emma Haycock, a year 12 student at Waimea College, participated in Shine Girl Nelson this year.

“I was a little nervous at first but straight away they got to relating with us and it was easy to break down walls,” says Emma.

She says she is a lot more confident because of Shine Girl Nelson.

She met others in the course who she could relate to and who are now good friends.

The three messages, ‘you are beautiful’, ‘you are important’, and ‘you are enough’ helped her to see herself differently and to see she was more than she had thought she was before the course.

“I enjoyed the times when we looked at techniques on how to have a more positive outlook on life,” she says.