INTERNET EDUCATION INITIATIVE FOR CANADIAN GIRLS LAUNCHED BY GIRL GUIDES AND MEDIA AWARENESS NETWORK

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TORONTO, October 17, 2002 - Girl Guides of Canada and the Media Awareness Network today launched You Go Girl in Technology - an innovative new Internet literacy initiative designed specifically to help Canadian girls learn to be safe, wise and responsible Internet users.

”Today’s girl is part of our first generation to grow up with the Internet as an integral part of daily life, and it’s absolutely essential to help her develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to use it well,” said Donna Leonard, Chief Commissioner of Girl Guides of Canada (GCC).

“We know from our research that young Canadians are taking advantage of the Internet’s exciting opportunities,” said Jan D’Arcy, Executive Director, Media Awareness Network (MNet). ”It’s their first choice as a resource for school work, as well as being a key tool for communicating with friends, a vehicle for making new acquaintances, and an amazing means of learning about the world. ‘But, as the news headlines remind us, the Internet also comes with challenges - including physical safety.”

The four components of the You Go Girl in Technology initiative ourlined below are designed to equip girls to address both Internet opportunities and risks:

National Challenge
Issued today (October 17, 2002) to girls in all branches of Guiding, from Sparks (ages 5- 6) to Senior Branches (ages 15 - 17+). The Challenge introduces key concepts of Internet literacy through a series of fun activities that girls can engage in, either as individuals, or within their Guiding Unit. They can complete the activities from home, school, community centers or public libraries. Topics that will be addressed include safety, protection of personal privacy, online ethics and accountability, online marketing to kids, and authentication of information. Upon completion of the Challenge, girls will receive a special You Go Girl in Technology crest.

Web Awareness workshop for adults in Guiding
A workshop for Guide leaders will be developed and piloted in selected library systems. Public library branches in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Alberta and British Columbia have already indicated their desire to participate.

Internet literacy badges, pins and certificates as well as supporting resources for every level of Guiding
Following the trial of the project in a number of Guide units, the official introduction of the Internet literacy badge is expected to take place during fall 2003, with awarding of the first badges expected to take place by the end of the Guiding year.

Mentoring
At all stages, girls in the senior branches will be encouraged to mentor younger girls, working with them to learn Internet literacy skills and to fulfill the requirements of the ‘Challenge’ and then the badge program appropriate to their level within the Guiding movement.

“Canadian Guiding is proud to take the lead, through our partnership with MNet, in providing community-based opportunities for girls to become more adept and at ease with Internet technology,” Ms. Leonard explained. “Equally important to us, is the fact that participants will develop life skills for making decisions that enable them to get the best from their use of the Internet, while addressing potential risks.”

For additional information or to arrange interviews, contact :

Bill Allen
Media Awareness Network
Telephone : 613-224-7721
Cell : 613-291-0853

Joyce Gonzales
Girl Guides of Canada
Telephone : 416-487-5281

Girl Guides of Canada is the largest organization for girls (aged 5 - 17+) and women in Canada, with nearly 169,000 members - over 137,000 girls and over 31,000 adults. Guiding is a worldwide movement for girls, led by women who are young at heart. It empowers girls and women to face challenges with confidence. Through our program and innovative activity choices, girls are encouraged to reach their potential, be independent, confident and caring. We empower them to give leadership and develop their decision-making and life skills.

Media Awareness Network (MNet) is a non-profit Canadian organization whose mission is to support and encourage media education, and its widest possible integration into Canadian schools, homes and communities. Our aim is to help people, particularly children and youth, to develop an informed and critical understanding of the nature of the media, the techniques used in creating media products, and the media’s role and influence within society. MNet’s work is funded by sponsors and partners who include: Bell Canada, Rogers Cable Inc., Shaw Communications Inc., BCE, CTV Inc, CanWest Global, CHUM Television, TELUS, A&E Television Networks, AOL Canada, Craig Broadcast Systems, Canadian Heritage, Health Canada, Human Resources Development Canada, Industry Canada, CA*net Instiute.