WE ALL HAVE PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS WHEN WE HEAR THE WORD “PROM”
Extravagant dresses, limousine escorts, corsages and bouquets, ridiculously high heels abandoned immediately upon arriving. Prom. That special occasion, that final dance, that dream-like feeling of walking onto the dance floor. Perhaps one of the most cliché yet openly-magical nights of a teenager’s high school career. Prom.
Although, in theory, prom—or the Year 12 Formal— is just a dance, for many young women across the globe it is more than that. Putting on your best dress and dancing the night away with your closest friends, celebrating your accomplishments over the past few years, and looking forward with eager anticipation to the opportunities ahead. These are moments everyone deserves the chance to experience. Yet we neglect to acknowledge that not every girl in our society receives the opportunity, the support, or the resources to experience those special moments
FOR MANY GIRLS, COMPLETING YEAR 12, LET ALONE ATTENDING THE END OF THE YEAR FORMAL, IS NOT A REALITY BUT RATHER A FAR-AWAY FANTASY
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls graduate at a rate of 27% lower than the national average. Several obstacles contribute to this graduation rate: domestic violence, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, incarceration, responsibilities at home, limited resources, and more. It is an issue that slips under the radar. While some graduating students are worried about which gown to pick, how they will wear their hair, seventeen and eighteen-year-olds around Australia are struggling to simply make it to class.
Girls Academy, a non-profit providing support to Aboriginal girls, has made it their mission to break this cycle and overcome the barriers preventing Aboriginal and Torres Strait girls from realising their full potential. Girls Academy empowers girls to complete Year 12 and supports them in finding employment and furthering their education. This is accomplished through school-based programs and one-on-one mentoring, providing both educational and emotional support.
Girls Academy has already seen an improvement in graduation rates and all of their students go on with a clear post-school plan and motivation to achieve their future endeavours. So, when each and every girl completes Year 12, this accomplishment is no small feat, but one worth celebrating. The girls at Murgon State High School, one of the branches of Girls Academy, have worked through numerous obstacles to complete Year 12, holding their heads up high and working with ambition and dedication. Sadly, attending the end-of-the-year formal sometimes requires just as much effort. Dresses, shoes, accessories, it adds up.
ENTER OUR SOLUTION
When our team heard that this graduating class, who had worked tirelessly to complete Year 12, might not receive the opportunity to celebrate the closing chapter to their year, it felt like fate. Just days prior, we had separated and organized our formal dresses, donated by Thread Together Fashion Partner THE ICONIC, and set them aside for a special occasion, waiting to be picked out and tried on. Sample stock bags and jewelry from Colette by Colette Hayman had just arrived, as part of their regular donations to Thread Together. All these items were waiting to make someone feel beautiful and like they deserved to celebrate. Our special occasion had arrived.
Immediately, we got to work picking out dresses, matching shoes, gathering clutches, adding jewelry as a finishing touch. Throughout this experience, we felt drawn back to our magical night, only a year prior. How beautiful we felt, how proud, inspired. Nostalgia began to fill our hearts as we felt deeply connected to these girls, whom we had never met but had a longing to know. What are their personalities? What are their stories? We wanted to know, to listen, and to cheer them on as they continue their journey.
TO THESE GIRLS, IT’S MORE THAN THAT
We hope they love their dresses. We hope they swirl and float around them as they dance, their jewelry making their eyes sparkle, their shoes giving them the confidence to twirl their hearts out. Sure, it might just be a dress, it might just be a dance. But to these girls, it is more than that. A transition to adulthood, a statement of a monumental achievement, a celebration, a time to feel priceless, even if it is just for one night. It is a promise for a shining future, a reward for daring to dream, and encouragement for being strong enough to hope. With the amazing work Girls Academy does, the determination of these students, and a few dresses from Thread Together, dignity is restored and a magical night is in order.
It is not just a dance, and it is more than a dress.
Thank you so much to Colette by Colette Hayman for making monthly donations to us of their sample bags and jewlry.
Thank you to EF Gap Year for placing Samantha and Shaina as interns with Thread Together to help make this possible.