How a nonprofit of empowerment grew from a 16-year-old’s dream
Oct 21, 2019 03:28PM
● By Hannah LaFond
Ciara Mosquito (back left) and girls at her workshop pose for a photo for the Shimmer Sparkle Shine Project. (provided by Ciara Mosquito)
By Hannah LaFond | [email protected]
Current Millcreek resident Ciara Mosquito was 16 when she first had the idea for the Shimmer Sparkle Shine Project, or SSSP, a nonprofit she founded.
SSSP’s mission statement is “To help girls and women develop and enhance their sense of self-worth."
Mosquito was inspired to create this project after being severely bullied throughout middle school. During this time her sense of worth was very low. She was able to build herself back up during high school where she attended a new school.
“The summer of when I was 16 I thought back to my struggles in middle school and I decided I wanted to help girls not feel the same way I did about myself at that age,” Mosquito said.
She’s been working on SSSP ever since. After starting in 2011, SSSP hosted its first workshop in 2012. That day showed Mosquito what her idea could really become. She said it was the best day of her life until she got married.
Now, SSSP operates by hosting workshops and classes based on five keys: personality, healthy living, comfort in your own skin, good friends versus bad friends and making your mark. These workshops are for girls ages 8 to 13. Girls are encouraged to start volunteering with the program at age 14.
“The struggle of self-worth doesn’t end in the 8 to 13 age bracket. So, we try to have the volunteers learn the same message as our girls, but through the teaching and mentoring perspective,” Mosquito said.
Mosquito shares a story from one of SSSP’s workshops. When they were talking about the fourth key, “good friends versus bad friends,” one girl at the workshop started talking to the group about feeling like she had no friends. Mosquito and the rest of the group did their best to comfort her and talk through it.
“By the end, she said, ‘Well, I have friends in you guys, but that doesn’t even matter because the best type of friend I need is a friend in myself.’” Mosquito said watching girls come to this kind of realization is the most impactful part of her job.
According to Mosquito, SSSP has gone through a lot of growth as well as trial and error to get to the point it is today. She’s had to learn the ins and outs of running a nonprofit on the go. Since moving to Utah after graduating from college, she’s been able to dedicate more time to expanding the project.
“It’s all about asking for help and letting people help you with their strengths and being savvy with your resources,” Mosquito said.
Though SSSP has grown a lot, Mosquito has no plans to slow down. She has several goals for the near future, such as moving away from the workshops, which are a one-time four-hour event, and hosting more class series, which are once-a-week hour-long classes for six weeks.
Mosquito said they prefer the class series because “it allows us to get to know our girls more and to have a longer time getting to share our message with them.”
Mosquito also hopes to start hosting activities throughout the year that girls can come back to after they’ve taken the workshops and classes. And she hopes to strengthen their volunteer program so there are more trained volunteers to host classes and in different areas.
SSSP wants to get as many girls involved as they can, to provide them with tools for their future. As Mosquito puts it, “Self-worth is not a one-time cure. It’s something that I’ve always battled with too. There are times when I feel worse about myself. But then I have to remember what I’ve taught the girls and it brings it full circle.”