Country singer-songwriter-author Kristal Barrett-Stuart calls them the Sparklers.
They are the girls and young women – aged 10 to 17 – that she wants to help through her Sparkle Project BC.
It’s a project aimed at empowering these young individuals and building their self esteem at a time when it is most vulnerable to attack – whether it’s from the unkindness of equally insecure peers, or the mixed messages of an appearance and status-obsessed society.
As her website (www.thesparkleprojectbc.com) states, it’s a “movement to inspire young girls to explore their passions, build their confidence and share their sparkle with the world.”
It started with the Abbotsford resident’s Sparkle: An Inspirational Handbook for Young Girls, in which influential and entrepreneurial women – including media celebrities Tamara Taggart, Dawn Chubai, Fiona Forbes and Erin Cebula – discuss their own struggles and the discovery of their own gifts and abilities.
The project has lately elevated its profile with a strong Peninsula connection.
A feel-good anthem, Sparkle, co-written by Barrett-Stuart and Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter – and former White Rock resident – Carolyn Dawn Johnson, has just been released to stations across Canada.
And the video for Sparkle, created by South Surrey’s Adera Angelucci and her company, Spiro Creative, was premiered May 7 at an official launch party at Morgan House at Grandview Corners.
Both song and video, featuring guest appearances by Johnson, Madeline Merlo and Victoria Duffield, are available on iTunes.
Partial proceeds from sales of the song and video and the book (available from the website) will help create bursaries for girls needing financial assistance to further pursue their dreams, Barrett-Stuart said.
The YWCA Women of Distinction nominee added that she is also in the process of organizing Sparkle workshops.
Bitter experiences and circumstances of life can often combine to extinguish a young girl’s precious individual “sparkle,” she said – and it’s that tragic limitation she hopes to avert, particularly in the key pre-adolescent years.
“Sparklers,” she said, “take the pledge to own their own sparkle – to recognize that they are unique and their talents and gifts make them who they are.”
As she shares in the blog attached to her website, Barrett-Stuart’s life is “a bit of a country song,” which directly influenced her decision to create the Sparkle project to give new opportunities to young girls.
Part of that has also been the inspiration of having her own daughter, Kelli, now three-and-a-half.
Raised from age two by a single mother who had left a physically abusive relationship – and struggled for years to provide for Barrett-Stuart and her younger half-brother – the songwriter learned how poverty could limit the pursuit of dreams, such as seeking a singing career.
She also learned how cruelly peers could attack her self-esteem through society’s perception of body image.
But Barrett-Stuart came out the other side of those dark years, thanks to her mother – “the best coach I could have” – and making use of vision boards to visualize dreams and goals, and, in the process, rediscovering her own “sparkle” as a songwriter and performer.
Angelucci – a former Earl Marriott Secondary drama student who has developed her love of media and entrepreneurship into her own online show, PassionpreneurTV, said it was a natural for her to become involved with the Sparkle Project.
“Kristal and I have been friends for around seven years – we both come from a background of radio work, “she said. “She has such energy and enthusiasm and she is creating something that is uniquely her own. When she came to me about what she was doing I thought how, when I was in high school, I would have loved to have something like that.”
That has been a common reaction from women approached to contribute to the Sparkle Project, Barrett-Stuart and Angelucci said – all of them can identify with the struggles faced by new generations of girls and young women.
“As soon as Kristal came to me and told me about it, I said ‘I’m there,’” Angelucci added.
“In fact, she’s in the book,” laughed Barrett-Stuart.