A Letter from Mara

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Dear Girls Rock! Sydney universe,

Mara here, with a warning of a very long post ahead!

I am filled from the tips of my toes to the hair on my head with warmth, gratitude, exhaustion, and above all excitement. The first Girls Rock! Sydney could not have gone any better – I can’t believe our Camper Showcase *SOLD OUT!!* – with special mention needed to highlight the incredible connections our mentors, campers, and volunteers formed throughout the week. Camp is so important for our participants, and this is where the majority of our focus lies, but the experience that the “adults” involved take away is second to none.

It’s overwhelming that GR!S was the first time many people had been asked what pronouns they prefer. Or that the most anxious amongst us – campers and mentors alike – felt brave enough to get behind a microphone. Or a guitar. Or a drumkit. My heart misses being around people who instantly believe me and my experiences, and don’t question or expect explanations or justify why so-and-so did that thing. At GR!S everybody is valued, everybody is safe, and everybody is free to be who they are.

The trick now is to hold on to the empowerment, strength, and support we know exists as we trudge through our day to day experiences. I’m desperately trying to start a band, because I now *know* that I can do it. Our campers are in the same boat, frantically trying to locate practice rooms so they can keep jamming with their new best friends. The most important thing we aim to do is demonstrate that the world can be good, and accepting, and supportive, so long as you have good people to call upon.

I offer up my support to anybody who needs an ear, a word of encouragement, or a shoulder to lean into. I hear you, I see you, and I welcome you. Being involved with the Girls Rock! program has changed my life in too many ways to count, and the only logical thing to do is to keep opening our doors to those who need us.

The future of GR!S is inevitable, but we have to sit down and figure out exactly what it will look like. There will DEFINITELY be another camp next Summer, and hopefully many opportunities for us to share the good stuff in the meantime. If you would like to be involved in any way, please let us know, as changing the world is a BIG job!!

In the meantime, there are so many people who need to be thanked for believing in us, and helping to bring the program to life.

❤️ To everyone who was involved with the GR!S committee and trusted me with their dreams. This program has very little to do with one person, and EVERYTHING to do with the number of hours, beers, and tears you’ve all put into it. With all that I have, thank you.

❤️ To everyone at The Factory Theatre for your long hours, excellent service, and incredible belief in what we hope to achieve. Thank you for fighting for us, and for being the most perfect venue a GR! camp could ever have.

❤️ To all of our donors and sponsors – THANK YOU!! Super Duper PR, Guitar Factory ParramattaDrums & Percussion Co-OpWoolworthsMarrickville, Banana Joe's Foodworks SupermarketBakers DelightMarrickville, Black Wire RecordsRepressed RecordsBaby In ChargeZK PhotoMonster Mouse StudiosNightcrawlers, Sydney Psych Fest 2018, The Guitar ButcherFBi Radio2ser FM - Real Radio, and so many more that I have no doubt forgotten.

❤️ To Our Community Project for all of the financial assistance, guidance, and insurance - THANK YOU!!

❤️ To all of the people who offered to help out but weren’t able to – THANK YOU! Our project timeline was so short that our communication was occasionally appalling, but please know that if you offered us help, we heard and are grateful. GR!S is for everybody, and we hope to find ways that all can be included in future experiences.

❤️ To anyone who shared a social media post, or had a conversation with a friend about what we do – THANK YOU!!

❤️ To all of the people who donated the thousands of hours needed to bring GR!S to life – THANK YOU!!!!! Volunteers, community members, mentors, sound techs, food preppers, designers, screen printers, workshop instructors, poster-makers – you’re all incredible and we love you!!

❤️ To all of our campers – from every portion of my existence – thank you. What an incredible group of powerful people who are going to dominate not just the music scene, but the world! Thank you, and your parents, for trusting us to share this experience with you. Thank you for believing in the program, for believing in us mentors, and thank you for teaching us so much about ourselves in the process.

I’ve no doubt forgotten some hugely instrumental people and I am so very sorry if that’s the case. I have a lot of feelings right now and am going to go and nap them off.

Final note – if you’ve ever wanted to pick up an instrument but thought you wouldn’t be any good – do it now! If you’ve ever wanted to write lyrics, or poetry, but didn’t know if anybody would listen – do it now! If you’ve ever wanted to start a band, or draw, or dance or sing or take photos or do anything creative – I promise you that we will be there to watch, to support, and to share in your success. Girls Rock! is for EVERYBODY.

With all the love in the world,

Mara xx

Girls Rock! Sydney