(NewsNation) — A California teen, during the COVID-19 pandemic, used her own money to make 60 self-care kits for girls in need around Los Angeles.
Since then, 17-year-old Kayli Jo Cooper’s efforts have become a nonprofit called Girl Well, which supplies these kits to undersheltered teens in four states. “Undersheltered,” in this case, can mean girls who are homeless, or in foster care.
When Cooper first started giving out the bags locally, she was able to have a conversation with the girls about how important self-care is.
“It was really cool to just be able to talk to them and have someone that looks like them explain my process and why they should practice self-care,” she said.
This is important, as some of the girls Cooper sees have “a lot going on in their lives.”
“Self-care may not be accessible, or may not be the top priority for them,” she said. “So being able to just help them and give them this kit, it really just means the world to me.”
Everything in the kit the girls are given revolves around mental, physical and emotional wellness. Items in them have included books, socks, jewelry and lip balm, as well as a handwritten note from Cooper and positive affirmations. Recently, Girl Well received a donation of brushes to help girls detangle their hair.
Girl Well teams up with community organizations to distribute the kits through existing programs.
For Cooper, it’s been important to find partners whose values align with Girl Well, and who believe in the organization’s mission.
“I’ve been able to find a lot of partners who really want to give back to their community, but also believe in what Girl Well stands for, and believe in equity in self-care,” she said.
A few of the girls who’ve received the kits have reached out to Cooper saying the items they received gave them permission to put themselves first, “which is really what Girl Well is about— jumpstarting the path of self-care.”