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Charmin Bates: Founder and Executive Director of Creative Girls Rock

Creative Girls Rock (CGR) provides free creative arts programs to girls and women around the world. CGR’s goal is to use creativity as a way to foster empowerment, happiness, and personal growth. As the Founder and Executive Director, Charmin has a front row seat to all the amazing benefits creativity has on girls and women. The best part of her job (outside of providing amazing opportunities to underserved communities) is watching the kids’ excited reactions when they receive their craft kits in the mail.

Can you talk about the connection between creativity and happiness?

Our mission is to educate and empower young girls and women to utilize their creativity to help with life balance and happiness. Overall, creativity is so helpful with mental health and wellness. Look at the pandemic as an example. During such a dark time, so many things were born out of creativity to make people smile. People came together through creativity and art to do virtual happy hours, listen to new music, and hear artists go live on social media. This art emerges from innovative, outside-the-box thinking. Mental health is one of our key initiatives, and our programs show that doing creative activities can help people destress. I ask people all the time: What is the one thing that helps you reset for the next day? For me, it is Creative Girls Rock. During this time, I do not have to think about my to-do list and can just focus on getting in the zone to find peace and happiness.

How does art help to empower young girls and women?

After our classes, we provide surveys for our participants to ensure our workshops are aligned with our mission and key initiatives. We want to ensure that everyone has an understanding of who we are and what we want to accomplish. Our feedback is always very positive, and we use it to evolve going forward. We’re able to boost girls’ self esteem by reminding them that they are talented, smart, and capable of creating great things. It feels good to let people remind you of those positive things about yourself. Our participants are so thankful to have this platform to express their creativity— it gives them a chance to take time for themselves, do what they love, and meet new people with common interests.

What do your programs entail?

Right now, all of our programs are virtual. We have a monthly CGR Master Class where all the participants receive a craft kit in the mail with all the tools they need for the project. During the pandemic, we spread our reach internationally and now ship kits to Canada and Japan. Post-pandemic, we will do a hybrid program so that locals can come in person, but anyone else in the world can join as well. The classes can be anything from sewing, to knitting, to tie dying, and much more. We give step-by-step instructions on how to create a product instead of buying it, like making your own distressed jeans instead of getting them from Forever 21. We did a “Loving What I See” workshop where we sent mirrors to the students and they wrote down all the things they love about themselves while looking in the mirror. A lot of girls do not hear that they are beautiful, loved, and intelligent, and you have to first believe that yourself. Creativity and empowerment are the basis for all of our programs.

Where do you hope to take CGR in the future?

Our goal is to have our own brick and mortar location where we could have after school programs. Our metro public schools have cut art from the curriculum, so providing after school programs is essential to give kids exposure to creativity and art. We would love to have a center for kids to come and do activities that they can bring home to their families and feel a sense of accomplishment. CGR wants to provide as many resources to our girls and women as possible, so I would like to continue partnering with other creative nonprofits.


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