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Beauty builds confidence for students

LAURA BAZIUK, QMI Agency
Bobbi Dietz looks for a pair of shoes to match her dress for graduation during the Cinderella Project. The Cinderella Project gives disadvantaged teen girls and boys access to grad dresses and suits for free. (RICHARD LAM, QMI AGENCY)

Bobbi Dietz looks for a pair of shoes to match her dress for graduation during the Cinderella Project. The Cinderella Project gives disadvantaged teen girls and boys access to grad dresses and suits for free. (RICHARD LAM, QMI AGENCY)

Sofie Peraza mostly wears baggy shirts, hoodies and toques and keeps to herself.

On Sunday, however, the 18-year-old was positively glowing in a turquoise cocktail dress, complemented by a necklace, ring and jewelled hairclip in her loose brown curls.

She was one of dozens of teens at a downtown Vancouver hotel taking part in the Cinderella Project's Boutique Day, an initiative that provides underprivileged Grade 12 students with all the trappings to enjoy their graduation festivities.

"I never finished a straight school year. I can't afford buying myself a dress," said Peraza, who attends the Pinnacle program at Templeton Secondary. "This is my chance to celebrate that I finished."

Bobbi Dietz was having her hair styled as her black satin gown was getting altered.

"If it wasn't for this, I wouldn't be having a pretty dress and hair and everything else," said the Templeton student who works at a Chevron station. "It's keeping me in school."

It's not just about giving at-risk teens a prom gown or a nice suit, said founder Heather MacKenzie, but to encourage them to believe in themselves.

"If a kid's had a dream stamped out of them, this is where we rekindle that dream."

Donations can be made to fund bursaries for Cinderellas and Cinderfellas at thecinderellaproject.com.