New Amsterdam project to give preteen girls the "tools and space to change the world"

Merida Miller
Merida Miller showing off Project Fearless t-shirtPhoto: Ruben Seigers / Project Fearless

This fall, young girls will have the opportunity to boost their confidence and gain new skills at  Project Fearless, a non-profit organization aimed at empowering girls 9 - 14. 

Founder Mérida Miller believes Amsterdam is the ideal place for such an initiative because of the city’s “diverse and international community.” Miller saw an opportunity to target younger girls when she noticed that many of the empowerment programs in Amsterdam focused on adult women. 

“Project Fearless offers something that doesn’t currently exist anywhere in the Netherlands. What I found was most programs that revolved around empowerment or life skills are focused on women my age, 30 or older,” she said. “We know our girls are ready to change the world, now we are giving them the tools and space to do so.”

The pilot courses, which starts from 9 September, will run during after school hours for six to eight weeks. They are currently offering three courses: Skateboarding – to boost their resilience and confidence, Mind & Body Lab – physical and mental stimulation to enable girls to tune into their unique power and have fun, and Design For Impact – to learn how to design, solve and ideate problems from a human-driven focus.

“This is about igniting and nurturing the kind of bold, brave, risk-taking, adventurous and confident individuals who can tackle what life throws at them,” Miller states on the Project Fearless website.

Miller and her team want to focus on the next generation of leaders by being hands-on role models and coaches for the young girls. With their partnership with retail brand TOMS, Project Fearless is able to launch their first three courses. 

“The coolest part of the collaboration/ support from TOMS is how excited their whole team was about Project Fearless, everyone I met offered to help in some way, volunteering, spreading the news, etc.,” she said. “It means so much when people want to be involved!”

Project Fearless also aims to help close the gender gap for these future young women by helping them shape their identities outside of societal expectations. According to Miller, each of their courses is designed so that girls can create a lasting positive change in their communities. How they are equipped in this program can allow them to “rewrite how the world views girls in general.” 

Registration is already open and the courses are free but space is limited to 12 girls per course. The courses are taught in English but there will be at least one coach or mentor in each course that speaks Dutch to assist what Miller hopes to be a diverse group of girls. 

“We want our courses to be open to any girl in Amsterdam, no matter background, ethnicity, economic status, or otherwise,” Miller emphasized. “We want to create a space where all girls feel welcome to be themselves or discover themselves on their own terms.”

Registration ends on 6 September.