A Place to Belong: Chaimae's Story
Being a teenager is hard. Being a teenager and moving to the other side of the world is even harder.
“When I was little, we went on a vacation to our home country of Morocco,” Chaimae explains. “But my grandfather there fell ill and we stayed to nurse him - we ended up staying for six years.”
When Chaimae and her family eventually returned to Surrey a few years ago, she was 16 and in search of a place to belong.
Having grown up doing Tae Kwon Do, Chaimae asked a Counsellor at her school if there was a martial arts gym nearby. Recognizing it as an opportunity to help Chaimae continue in sport and build a new community around her, she pointed her towards Yo Bro | Yo Girl Youth Initiative which had an afterschool program in Chaimae’s school, Princess Margaret Secondary.
Whether she’s teaching jiu jitsu at Yo Girl, training for an upcoming competition, or heading out on a field trip, you’ll find Chaimae at YBYG six days a week.
“I don’t have much experience in life,” she says. “One of my favourite parts of YBYG is having so many friends there who are a few years ahead of me in life. Their advice is so important to me - it gives me perspective and support that I wouldn’t find elsewhere.”
“More than anything, YBYG is a family,” Chaimae explains. “And, in a family environment, you aren’t scared to voice your struggles. Having this second family gives all of us a place to belong and another option to turn to when we are pressured by peers or people at school to do things we don’t want to do.”
Our Newest Program: Team Yo Girl
Chaimae leads Team Yo Girl, a new program that was created as a unique offshoot of Team Yo Bro | Yo Girl. This after-school, activity-based program is offered once a week throughout the school year. Team Yo Girl is only for young women so that those who, for religious or cultural reasons, can’t attend mixed-gender programs can still participate and build peer connections, acceptance, and confidence.