"Hera saved my life!"

HeraSarah* credits her new found love for and success in her educational endeavours to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary Hera program.

Hera – named after the Greek goddess who was said to be sexually exploited but had the strength to choose a better life – offers adolescent girls who are at risk of sexual exploitation and their families various opportunities. 

Hera aims to help youth experience success, overcome adversity and learn a variety of new skills through its unique educational programming, which is done in partnership with the Calgary Board of Education. 

Sarah joined the Hera program in January 2012. At that time she was dating a significantly older man who was a drug dealer and worries, had she not been given the tools to realize the danger of this relationship, she might have ended up becoming a prostitute. 

“I can’t even imagine where I would be without Hera but I guarantee it wouldn’t be good,” she said.

Sarah also wasn’t attending her high school classes regularly. One of the aspects of the Hera program is to get participants to commit to their education. Sarah was in Grade 11 at a high school in Calgary but admits she wasn’t the best student. She rarely went to class and felt that none of her teachers cared if she succeeded or not. Mainstream high school wasn’t for her. 

At Hera, she says the small environment is exactly what she needed. Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Sarah said the large classrooms were too distracting for her and she had little support to deal with her disability.

“Here at Hera everyone cares enough to give you what you need to get through the day to be productive,” says Sarah.

She also said Hera offers a family-type environment.

“The staff is the best part of the program,” says Sarah, adding for the first time in her life she feels like people really care for her and her future.
It’s this support that has given Sarah a new-found love for education. While working part-time, she is in summer school to make up credits to graduate on time and has plans for post-secondary education. Sarah plans to take criminal justice and wants to work for the RCMP. 

“I always knew what I wanted to do but didn’t think I could do it.”

Hera helped her see that she can do it and offers her the supports she needs to be successful in both her personal and educational life.

“Hera changed my life,” said Sarah. “I love Hera!”

Her future career path will help her give back in a way that the Hera program has helped her. 

“I want to be able to serve the world and help others because of what has been given to me.”

Sarah said the people who invest in programs such as Hera deserve to know the support they give is invaluable.

“These people who invest in these programs are raising people up,” she said. 

The Hera program is looking for volunteers to build relationships and support at-risk young women through fun, interactive activities such as dance, cooking, baking, sewing, sports, art projects or any other talents/skills that you can share. 

To find out how you can volunteer, please contact Maggie Schmiemann, BGCC Volunteer Coordinator at 403-520-1548 or mschmiemann@bgcc.ab.ca.

*The name of this person was changed to protect her identity.