FRESH FACES | DEESH & KRISTAL
MEET DEESH SEKHON OF GIRLKIND FOUNDATION & KRISTAL BARRETT OF THE SPARKLE PROJECT:
Meet Kristal Barrett
Q: Tell me about the Sparkle Project.
When I was 16, I felt a lack of support for young women. I made it my mission that when I grew up, I wanted to fill that void, offer inspiration, and model personal development to the next generation. A few years after becoming a mother to my daughter, Sparkle was born. Think of it as a movement seeking to inspire and equip young girls to lead healthy, self-confident, and successful lives by goal-setting, learning self-love, and expressing gratitude. It was born out of passion but, now, it includes a growing community of entrepreneurs, artists, and public figures.
We have created practical resources like a book entitled Sparkle: An Inspirational Handbook for Young Girls, merchandise, workshops, bursaries, and hosts an annual empowerment event.
Q: What is your message to young girls everywhere?
If I could talk to my younger self, I would focus more of my energy on my goals, what lights me up, and what more I can give to the world. At that age, we tend to care about what people think of us, our weight and appearance, but that doesn’t get you anywhere five years later.
During my country singer/song-writer days, I remember meeting a producer and when I asked him for advice, his told me to lose 20 lbs! I was 17 years at the time, and the slimmest I had ever been. His words could have formed a limiting belief, but I allowed my own voice to be stronger.
My message is to, “Find that light within you—your sparkle—and share your light. It’s that feeling of confidence that you were innately born with.”
Q: Have you felt supported by the Abbotsford community?
We have very inspirational people here and lots of amazing small businesses. It’s a community where we help one another. My heart’s here. There is so much to love about Abby.
Meet Deesh Sekhon
Q: Why did you start GirlKind?
Towards the end of 2011, I reacted to a trailer I saw online about gendercide. I watched how baby girls were being disposed of or abandoned. Why? Simply because they were girls. Upon more research, I learned that over 200 million baby girls were missing in countries, such as China and India.
My ethnic background, the South Asian culture, places a higher value on males, so I wasn’t shocked to hear of females being dismissed. However, and naively, I assumed that gendercide was more of an issue in the past. When I learned these statistics were about present day, I was broken, and continued to feel a stirring that I couldn’t ignore.
I was heartened to discover that there is a home in India making a positive difference. The lady who runs it rescues girls from places they have been abandoned. I found an opportunity to help, so I launched the Save A Girl campaign to collect donations, educate, and raise awareness.Not only did we collect 1500 items, but I received emails, messages, and phone-calls where people expressed wanting to do more. Much more.
The next logical step was to establish a Foundation so GirlKind was born, serving as a platform to help bring an end to gendercide and gender discrimination. While we are trying to save girls’ lives, we also are trying to change the mindset that feeds the hurtful belief that girls are unequal to boys.
Q: Have you felt supported in your advocacy work and what message do you want to share?
I am from Surrey and only moved to Abbotsford recently. Abby is very community-driven. It’s heartfelt and we want to make our community better. I don’t believe I would have received the same level of support in another community.
Here’s an example.
October 11th is Every Girl Matters Day as officially proclaimed by the provincial government. It is held in conjunction with the United Nations’ Day of the Girl--- a day to recognize the global rights of girls around the world.
The Reach Museum and GirlKInd co-host this event and are, heavily, supported by influencers and public figures.
I end with this…Never underestimate your abilities. One person can truly make a difference.