On the first weekend in May, the halls of Gladstone Secondary School were transformed into an amazing display of gowns, suits, shoes, accessories and beauty products assembled for select Grade 12 students so they could choose their prom outfits. This was the first time in 23 years that this special event was held at a school.
Prom is a once-in-a-lifetime event where school graduates celebrate entering a new phase in their lives. However, for many students, their lives are ones of financial hardship, invisibility, marginalization, bullying, and even violence. The goal of The Cinderella Project is to help break cycles of poverty by encouraging vulnerable youth to stay in school and complete their high school education.
Historically hosted at a downtown Vancouver hotel, the completely volunteer-run organization was not able to use the usual venue this year. “We were looking for a space that was central and easily accessible for these incredible young people”, said Heather MacKenzie, Co-founder of the Cinderella Project. “We reached out to several Metro Vancouver school districts and Vancouver School District responded. On behalf of The Cinderella Project, I want to thank the District and Gladstone Secondary for making this happen. Because of your efforts, over 200 disenfranchised students from across Metro Vancouver celebrated the day that is focused on reigniting their dreams, building self-esteem, and reinforcing hope.”
More than 1,500 gowns, 1,000 pairs of shoes, 500 suits, and hundreds of accessories and beauty products—all donated—were displayed at the school for the students to choose from.
“My daughter was graciously accepted into The Cinderella Project and last month we came for the shopping day. We were overwhelmed and moved to tears by the experience.” Says a mother of a VSB secondary student as she reflects on the day. “We have been through so much especially these past two years since we fled years of domestic abuse, my daughters ongoing mental health struggles, my job loss, and breast cancer diagnosis last year. My daughter has worked very hard to stay in school, who is now getting A’s and B’s.” The mother adds “this event reinforced that goodness still exists in this world. Feeling the sense of community and unconditional love was the most precious gift we could have received. Thank you.”
For more information about the Cinderella Project, please visit thecinderellaproject.com