Ruth Lewis-Jones was alarmed as she witnessed the confronting issues and ever-increasing pressures girls in her community youth group - girls she poured her heart and soul into - faced daily.
Just like any other girl they received messages of perfection through the media, constant comparison, peer pressure and unrealistic expectations and were not confident in who they were.
Ruth was determined to create a solution so the girls would be assured of their identity and better able to face those relentless struggles.
She didn’t just want to help the girls she knew and cared for; she wanted to affect many more. She wanted anyone to be able to empower girls. That was when the dream of Esteem Designz Program became a reality.
Ruth was studying a Bachelor of Design at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW, and knew the power of design to create change, provide direction, meaning and hope in girls’ lives. She decided to use that unique creative approach to meet the needs of girls by giving choice, freedom and skills.
Her vision has been realised in Esteem Designz, a comprehensive resource designed to gently take girls through a journey of self-exploration and empowerment, utilising the creative process as a joyful, uplifting and transforming experience.
Each stage of the program provides another coping strategy and an opportunity for girls to discover more about themselves. It aims to provide fun, interactive and meaningful design projects and activities to engage, equip and empower girls to create value, confidence, worth and self-respect.
Ruth’s faith and passion to see girls valued, to know their worth and be empowered, kept her pushing through when it seemed every door was slamming in her face.
Having no finances to embark on the endeavour and receiving endless rejection letters to her requests for funding (although all commending her initiative) did not stop her.
She was not interested in all the things she couldn’t do and didn’t have but was determined to make a difference.
“Every disastrous knockdown was just an opportunity for something better - an attitude I hope to impart to the girls through the program.”
With positive feedback from the programs she was running, Ruth decided to take a leap of faith and get kits professionally produced in China - beautiful gifts for the girls to receive. That adventure brought many new logistical and linguistic challenges. She went from one factory to another when they stopped production due to the intricacy she required.
But Ruth persisted to produce a resource that would value the girls and be immediately ready for use by facilitators.
“When everything felt like it was crumbling around me, I focused on the impact Esteem Designz already had, the inspiring comments from participants, and my hope to empower creative identity and self-worth in girls," Ruth says.
“This has been the hardest and most challenging thing I have ever done but also the most rewarding and meaningful. I wouldn’t trade those hardships even if it helps only one girl. In producing Esteem Design Program I have grown in confidence too, experienced a strength I could not have imagined and know without a doubt what I want to do with my life.
“My passion is design but my heart is empowering girls.”
Through Esteem Designz Program girls have discovered more about themselves, learning to trust and believe in themselves, that they can cope with anything and accomplish anything they put their mind to, gaining confidence, discovering their strengths and purpose and breaking free of struggles and self-doubt.
Esteem Designz Program is an immeasurably valuable resource that can be a fantastic opportunity through which schools and girls’ organisations can join Ruth in creating change and empowering girls.
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More information about Esteem Designz Program is available at Esteemdesignz.com.au