The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for girls and gender-diverse young people.

Starting a new school year is going to be a very different experience in 2021.

Here are some “Head, Heart, Hands” tips to help you have their back through this tough time. Read the tips below or download the PDF

Belonging and Community Connection

Head: ask, “Are you nervous about reconnecting with friends?” “Who have you missed lately, and has it surprised you?”

Heart: share what makes you feel like you belong in your circles. If you had to miss community gatherings over the past months, share how that honestly made you feel.

Hands: pick a day to do an activity together that you used to do in a community group and may have missed. Singing, dancing, cooking, playing games, storytelling, watching movies, outdoor fun … take time to acknowledge what you like and miss about it.


Head: ask, “On a scale of one to three, how ready are you for school to start?” “What makes you feel uncertain about it?”

Heart: share two things that affect your confidence day-to-day and how you work through them.

Hands: work together to make a “Confidence Plan” for the first five days of school. What can you do on day 1 to boost confidence? What about day 2, 3, and so on? Figure out at least 1 thing that you can try each day for that week and learn what really works.

Healthy Relationships

Head: ask, “What do you think students and teachers at your school need to do better this year when they know a student isn’t being treated right?”

Heart: share a time when you saw a situation of bullying or disrespect between people you thought were friends or dating. What did you do? What do you wish you did?

Hands: discuss baking a “good relationship cake”. Love, listening, give-and-take … what are the ingredients? Mentorship, quality time, shared interests … what tools do you use to bake it? For younger ones, draw the cake and its elements out together.

Mental Health

Head: ask, “What does it mean for someone your age to be really healthy and happy? What do you they would think, feel, want, and look forward to this year?”

Heart: share a time when you or someone you knew dealt with sadness or anxiety as a young person. How did they deal with it, and who helped them?

Hands: book time to explore mental health information websites for children and young people together. Kids Help Phone and are two examples. This may come in handy for them or for a friend of theirs in the future.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation supports programs all over Canada that strengthen belonging, community connection, mental health, confidence, and healthy relationships for girls and gender-diverse young people aged 9 to 19. They offer their participants safe and inclusive spaces, and they do it even when school doors are closed.

Support Got Your Back to help make sure programs are there for girls and gender-diverse young people who need them most.