During the early days of the pandemic, the strict quarantine days, the isolating days, the days full of fear and unknowns and sometimes great sorrow, people coped as best they could in their own ways, whether that meant over-exercising, over-eating, or over-posting on social media. Overage, or excess, was a bit of a theme, compensation, it seemed, for the time spent grappling in the unknown. We would know how to do something, doggone it, and do it well, and do it often.
But excess was not everyone’s balm, for there were and there are some who do not have enough of even the basic resources, beyond food, shelter, and toilet paper, that help to make a person feel whole and cared for.
Kayli Joy Cooper, although only 16, was struck by that at the time, after returning from a mission trip in Atlanta, when she realized how many girls did not have access to adequate self-care resources. She started her non-profit Girl Well with the mission of making self-care more equitable though self-care kits that promote self-love.
“Through Girl Well kits, we provide under-sheltered teenage girls with mental, physical, and emotional wellness,” Cooper explains. “To date we’ve reached 500 girls in 5 different states and have partnered with multimillion dollar companies.”
Girl Well’s kits are typically distributed through foster care shelters and programs in low-income communities, but the non-profit has also gone directly to homes.
Initially, due to the urgency that accompanied this mission at that time, these kits were personally funded by Cooper and her parents. Since then, the organization has benefitted from private donations though the Girl Well website.
“It takes a village to continue the mission of Girl Well, and we have been blessed to receive in-kind donations from our generous partners as well. We are humbled to have partnered with multi-million dollar brands like Bombas, The Female Quotient, Olive and June, Denman Brushes, and Better Help, which provides the girls with free teletherapy. Our amazing partners help girls in all different aspects of life.”
Girl Well has been recognized by sizable outlets in a short amount of time.
“I was fortunate to be named a Disney Dreamer, and my organization was featured on Good Morning America,” says Cooper. “I was also a part of the inaugural class of Prudential Emerging Visionaries.”
Cooper was even featured on a billboard in Times Square.
While the successes and accomplishments have been gratifying, the identification of new channels and locations for donating the kits has been somewhat challenging. Girl Well is also actively seeking additional donors.
“We recently launched our Sponsor-a-girl program where, depending on the amount chosen, donors can sponsor as many girls as they would like,” Cooper offers. This is another way in which those interested can have a direct impact on young girls’ lives through Girl Well.
Although young herself and still navigating her own educational career, Cooper is undeterred in her aim to help those less fortunate.
“Self-care has played such an integral part in my life,” says Cooper. “And everyone deserves the opportunity to benefit from and start their journey of self-care. So far, we have reached girls in 5 different states, but I want to reach every state in America and would love to become an international organization.
“The work that Girl Well is doing is necessary, self-care is necessary. Self-care is a foundation for everything you could want to do, and I want to make sure everyone has access to it.”
To donate, visit girlwell.org.