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Friday, July 24, 2015


 If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self? 

We are born as a blank canvas, entering the world blessedly unaware of how it will shape us, change us, mold us. Those little personalities shine bright without hesitation or censorship, free from outside influence until one day that begins to change. That inner freedom we experience as young children inevitably comes to an end and we begin to feel how the world responds to us. Confidence can start to ebb away, and by the time we reach the pre- teen and teen years we often piece our confidence back together at the end of each day only to have it challenged and crumble again the next. It's a tough time for everyone: the person going through it, and the parents lovingly trying to do everything they can to remind their child that this too shall pass. But in that moment of life, it can seem endless.

Who you can turn to and the resources you have available can make a big difference during this time and I am grateful to this day for how loving and supportive my Mum was for me. No matter how tough something was to talk about, I knew I could go to her and I hope I can be this way for my own kids. One of things she did was help me find books and materials to help me understand what I was going through and never let me forget that I wasn't alone. Because that's the thing: when you're growing up and experiencing the high school years, you can feel so alone, even when surrounded by friends, convinced that no one else is going through what you're going through. But as wonderful as parents can be, sometimes you need something else, another voice to listen to and encourage you.

And that's what makes The Sparkle Project BC and it's founder, Kristal Barrett- Stuart, are here to do. As part of her vision for the project, Barrett- Stuart has co- written a book, created workshops and written/ produced a song and music video all to help inspire girls and young women. The goal of The Sparkle Project is to help girls find their inner 'sparkle', build their confidence, and chase their dreams. In her book, Sparkle: An Inspirational Handbook for Young Girls, Kristal and co- author Kristin Van Vloten share about their own experiences in addition to interviews with other successful women who offer advice and reflections from their own youth. Jillian Harris and Tamara Taggart are just two of the ladies whose interviews are included in the book. The Sparkle Project is an amazing movement, with the handbook serving as a powerful resource for young girls and their parents and I am excited to share about it with my readers. I recently got to ask Kristal a few questions about The Sparkle Project, what inspired it, and her own experiences growing up. I am so excited to introduce you to Kristal & The Sparkle Project

We are too obsessed with “perfection”...There is such a lack of self- love, and I want to change that!

What is your goal/ dream  for The Sparkle Project? 
I would love to create a global movement, for young girls all around the world owning their unique sparkle they were born with, my dream is to have many Sparkle Workshop facilitators all over the world, to have some big stars jump on board and support the project and talk about their challenges too… we are too obsessed with “perfection” and that is creating very unhealthy mind sets. There is such a lack of self love, I want to change that! 

What inspired The Sparkle Project? What was your final 'push' to make it happen? 
I had a very hard time in high school (You couldn’t pay me a million dollars to go back!) I had a hard time fitting in and I also felt a real lack of support available at that age. I knew I wanted to make a difference when I grew up one day. After having my little girl in 2011 I was inspired to finally bring my dream to life and I created The Sparkle Project. I really want to pave a positive path for my girl and girls everywhere. Young girls today are faced with far more problems then I had when I was in high school and I have so much compassion for what they have to go through.

What challenges did you face/ overcome to make The Sparkle Project come to life? 
Writing a book, recording a song, filming a music video, and essentially starting a movement all came at a high cost. This was a scary challenge at first but once I started asking for help, I had many sponsors that wanted to help bring my vision to life and wanted to be a part of making a difference in the lives of young girls. I had many book sponsors that jumped on board with the book, Juno award winning country singer Carolyn Dawn Johnson personally sponsored the sparkle song, a video production company called Spiro Creative sponsored the music video, and a beautiful lady in Utah named Sheila jumped on board to help with the website and all the branding. I really never could have done it all without all these amazing people who gave all their time and talents. I feel so blessed.

What are you most proud of with The Sparkle Project?  
I am so proud of the impact the project has already had on so many young girls and women. I have had many young girls/women say that the book has changed their lives, or the workshop was inspiring, or that the sparkle song is what they put on when they are having a bad day. This makes my heart burst with joy. 

Who has been supportive of the project? 
There are too many people to list but I was excited to get support from some fabulous public figures such as Jillian Harris, Tamara Taggart, Carolyn Dawn Johnson and many more. 

How did you get so many wonderful women involved? 
I sent personalized e-mails to many amazing women explaining my goal with the project. I was expecting rejection but was so pleasantly surprised to receive so much support. I think most of us have negative memories and our own insecurities when we think back to our teenage years. It was so amazing to have all these inspirational women open up and be vulnerable and talk about the challenges they faced at that age. 

We think we are not pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough...

How has becoming a Mom changed or reinforced your outlook on what girls/ young women go through? How did you incorporate this into The Sparkle Project? 
Becoming a Mom certainly solidified why this is my passion! I look at my daughter (who is almost 4) and she is full of sparkle, she doesn’t care what people think of her, or that she looks fat in her little pink dress… she is care free and so innocent… it is so beautiful. I wish I could preserve her little sparkle forever. Unfortunately as we get older we are so impacted by society and our sparkle starts to dim (We think we are not pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough, popular enough, rich enough, etc) I want to equip my daughter to handle all the challenges that life will throw at her, in a graceful way :) She reminds me daily that we were all born with that sparkle, sometimes we just need to dust ourselves off and dig deep to find our missing sparkle again.

Looking back, what advice would you give yourself when you were younger? What advice do you have for your daughter & other girls today? 
High school is one of the toughest times of your life- hang in there and stay strong, it gets sooo much better!  Find true friends, be kind to yourself and be kind to others too! 

What advice do you have for parents of girls/ young women to help them at this time in their daughter's life? 
Be patient, supportive, non-judgmental and try to listen. I have seen many parents feel helpless and scared for their daughters during their teenage years. It’s usually for just a short time and it usually gets better.

If you or someone you know has a daughter, I hope you will check out The Sparkle Project and pick up a copy of the Sparkle handbook to read (it's great for both Moms and daughters to look through- even Dads will appreciate the book, helping them understand this unique time in their daughter's life). The book is enjoyable to read (you don't have to read it from cover to cover, or in any specific order) and is a good resource to have from someone who is genuine and dedicated to inspiring girls & women to reach their full potential. 

Visit The Sparkle Project website to learn more and find it on Facebook & Instagram. You can purchase a copy of Sparkle: An Inspirational Handbook for Young Girls online and is available in a few BC Chapters locations- Kelowna, Kamloops, Burnaby- and on Amazon). The Sparkle handbook retails for  $18.95 CAD.

Image Sources:
Sparkle quote: Little Inspiration

Photo & logo courtesy of The Sparkle Project BC

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