Youth group opens gift shop to benefit international education for girls

One group of young islanders have taken it upon themselves to open a holiday boutique in time for the shopping season — while also simultaneously helping educate girls in developing countries around the world.

Bainbridge Island’s seventh-grade girls’ Wyldlife group will have a two-day “pop-up shop” at the Charrette space on Winslow Way where residents can purchase items for the gift-giving season.

The event, dubbed Island Girl Rising, was inspired by the recent “Girl Rising” documentary showing, hosted by the Bainbridge High School Social Justice League last October.

“The Monday immediately following (the documentary showing), the girls were so fired up about the film,” said Kathy Weibel, a Wyldlife parent and leader. “So we decided right then and there we should do something.”

Wyldlife is a nondenominational Christian youth group and talking circle for middle school age students. Made up of 16 girls, the group Weibel represents has worked since October to produce gifts worth selling and giving. They range from hand-embroidered cards to jewelry and ornaments.

All of the proceeds will be donated to the 10x10 Fund for Girls’ Education, a charity started in collaboration with the documentary.

“Girl Rising” tells the stories of nine girls from different parts of the world. Faced with social injustices like child slavery and arranged marriage, each girl exemplifies the power of education to overcome social barriers and make positive change.

“For the girls, it’s a chance to find something they’re passionate about,” Weibel said. “It’s a chance for them to do something tangible.”

“It’s been so fun to honor their enthusiasm and passion for this issue,” Weibel added.

The pop-up gift shop will give many of the girls their first exposure to activism, and, as Weibel explained, possibly the start to long-term advocacy.

The shop will open at Charrette, a storefront located between Millstream and Petit & Olsen that is typically available for temporary uses.

“The kids are going to be running the shop,” Weibel explained. “It’s not like having a table at the back of a church. It’s not like a garage sale.”

From 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, residents can get some of their last-minute shopping in at the Island Girl Rising shop.

“We want to raise money, for sure,” she said. “But we also want to raise awareness.”

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