Girls 5“Taking the Lead” is a girl focused program by HeartWood Centre for Community Youth Development in Halifax Regional Municipality. We work with girls, aged 14 to 18, to help them:

  • Discover their personal assets and passions;
  • Learn more about their community, and the barriers that exist to women taking on leadership roles;
  • Develop new skills through participatory leadership;
  • Build relationships with their peers and other members of the community.

Our project is unique in that we work with a group of twelve girls and young women for an 8-month duration. We meet with the girls twice a week afterschool, during the evenings and on weekends.

The overarching goal is to make a long-lasting impact on a small number of girls in each community we work in, so that these participants can then carry on the work we start with them for months, and years to come.

Here are just some of the topics we focus on with each group during the 8-month program:

  • Empowerment
  • Self Esteem
  • Body Positivity
  • Healthy relationships
  • Gender inequality and Stereotyping
  • Hypersexualization and Sexualized violence

Watch our video, to hear from past participants of this project speak about the impact that it had on their lives.

Program Staff: Nicole Landry at

Past Events

Girls Take on Sexism

On June 7th, as part of 100 in 1 Day Halifax, the amazing young women from HeartWood’s Taking the Lead program in Cole Harbour set up shop at the Alderney Landing Farmers Market. The girls spent their Saturday morning selling “Stop Gender StereoTyping” t-shirts that were created by Taking the Lead participants, handing out beautiful homemade cards with quotes by women on them, sharing resources on issues facing girls and young women, and speaking out about issues facing young women such as street harassment.

Part of their strategy for engaging the public was to encourage folks at the market to take part in a photo booth. The dry-erase boards used for the photo booth had the statements “Girls are awesome because…” and “Sexism sucks because…” written on them, and the group invited market-goers young and old to share their answer so that they could snap a quick picture.

You can continue to support programs and initiatives like these by purchasing one of our “Stop Gender StereoTyping” shirts! Shirts can be purchased by emailing