Children seem to grow up faster than ever these days and Kerri Isham wants to make sure local girls do it safely.
That’s why the Parksville resident doesn’t like it when she sees young teens and tweens wearing T-shirts promoting sexuality — consciously or otherwise.
“There are a lot of T-shirts out there that are highly sexualized for girls, particularly in the eight to 12 age range. Sometimes the girls don’t even know that the T-shirts are sexualized, but certainly adults and other teenagers would know.”
To counter this, Isham was on hand at the Craig Street Market in Parksville to offer alternative Ts promoting a healthier view of girlhood.
“I’m trying to give girls an option. I want them to be able to have tee shirts they can wear that helps them feel good about themselves instead of being objectified as a sexual object.”
Isham said she has sold about 240 of her shirts, which show off positive, affirming messages.
“This is the first of many T-shirts I plan to make,” she said. “I have a second T-shirt done and when I sell a few more of these I’ll be buying more.”
The context in which she does this is a service she calls Power Up, where she provides sexual health workshops to local children, parents and educators.
“I work with teachers and parents on how to help girls navigate the media so their body image and self esteem is not impacted as heavily. It’s very troubling with the media, the videos, the T-shirts, the sexy clothes and inappropriate websites. This is my way to try to intervene and try to educate parents so girls can grow up safe.”
Isham, who served as a teacher in School District 69 (Qualicum) said she has been teaching sexual health for 11 years through her physical education classes, as well as at seminars and workshops, both in the schools and in private homes.
“I do a workshop called Navigating Girl World, a two-hour workshop for parents, teachers and community members and I sell the shirts after the workshops,” she said. “I also do a female sexual anatomy workshop and I am offering a parent workshop at the Parksville Pharmasave on Wednesday, Aug. 3, from 1 to 3 p.m. called Body Smart Right From the Start. The focus is for parents of children aged zero to Grade 4 and it’s about increasing abuse resistance.”
Isham noted she also provides customized sexual education workshops for seniors, as well as for people with disabilities.
“A variety of different people attend my workshops,” Isham said. “For instance, there are more grandparents raising children these days and many people in their day didn’t grow up with access to healthy sexual education. It was more about the shame and embarrassment.”
She said this old style of looking at female sexuality is by no means a thing of the past however.
“That’s not all gone today,” she said, but we’re working on it.”
For more information about Power Up, call 250-248-5053 or visit wwwpowerupworkshops.ca.