The Bachar Houli Foundation will further expand its Girls Leadership Program, thanks to $150,000 of funding from the Andrews Labor Government.

The Foundation was among $450,000 worth of state government grants announced by Minister for Youth Ros Spence at a special morning tea inside the Melbourne Cricket Ground last week.

Among those in attendance at the Richmond Football Club and MCC hosted function were current Bachar Houli Foundation Girls Leadership Program participants.

The youth were brought together by the program’s annual three-day camp, which included health activities, a football session and tours of the MCG and Melbourne Sports Museum.

The Leadership Program aims to strengthen identity and community connectedness among Muslim girls aged 12-17. Activities in the junior program include gratitude and bonding sessions, nutrition, mindfulness and identity workshops.

Speaking at the event, Houli thanked the Andrews Government and all of the Foundation’s partners for their support.

“We do not grow and become this big without numerous supporters, so we are very humbled by that and grateful,” Houli said.

“Already, we can affect 5,000 boys and girls a year across the country. We will continue to grow, and this helps us to do that. I would like to thank the State Government very much.”

Jana Houli, a graduate of the program, has transitioned into becoming a mentor for the current participants.

“I would not be the person I am today if it were not for this program. We are just so grateful to have all these great mentors and role models that we look up to so dearly,” Jana said.

2x Bachar Houli Medallist, Jana Houli

“The Bachar Houli Girls Leadership Program is somewhere where I can be myself, meet new girls, and enhance my leadership skills staying within my faith.

“This program has helped me to develop and grow into such a confident and proud woman and Muslim.”

Minister Spence added that sports are a fantastic way to engage youth with their communities while building confidence and leadership skills.

“The skills and values these programs promote will empower a new group of young leaders in our community,” she said.

“It is our responsibility to make sure every young Victorian is supported to fully recover from the significant challenges they have faced over the past twelve months. I am proud to support three programs that foster such a strong sense of community and belonging in young people.”

Bachar Houli Junior Girls Leadership Program participants on the MCG

The funding will also support the Bachar Houli Foundation’s A-Game program, which engages Islamic young people through mentoring opportunities and interactive modules.

Richmond Football Club’s Tiger Paw program, which educates primary school students about teamwork and physical and mental wellbeing, will also benefit from the grant.