Confidence, self-image and respect are all terms commonly used when discussing adolescent girls; but most girls don’t have an adequate understanding of how these issues are relevant in their own lives. Few have experienced the long term effects of gossip.
They don’t understand how someone’s opinion of themselves is just as important, if not more important, than the public’s opinion. Many have never even questioned the idea that men are more capable of doing things than women.
Girls Empowered and Motivated (GEM) is a club dedicated to providing young women with multiple opportunities to realize their worth, power, beauty and potential.
GEM helps fourth and fifth grade girls take a purposeful look at some large concepts that affect them daily.
The goal of GEM is for the students to develop a positive self image and as a result, become examples for other young women. In order to reach this goal, the students are involved in activities that will motivate them to challenge any harmful mindsets and replace them with an encouraging outlook.
One of these activities requires the students to take a look at the power of language and to see how the types of words used, mean or kind, can affect the message. Another activity aims to highlight that all people are connected in one way or another so when we support others then we are helping ourselves as well. The students will also be asked to define their own concepts of beauty by comparing what is presented daily in the media to what they see in their own communities.
The club is not only a safe and respectful environment, it is also a place where knowledge is passed from student to student and awareness is raised. Knowledge leads to empowerment which then leads to a motivation to be your personal best.
For example, one day many of the students arrived at our meeting feeling very sad or frustrated with the way their day had gone. They complained about everything from homework to friends, but not one of them seemed to have an idea of what they could do to turn their day around. We came together as a group and created a list of techniques that we could use the next time we weren’t so happy; things like exercising, writing in journals, listening to music, and talking to friends.
The girls were not only able to vent about their daily annoyances, but they were also able to share knowledge with one another.
I did not have a group like GEM while growing up; in fact I didn’t participate in anything similar to it until I reached college. I believe that it is never too early to learn that every person has great potential and that’s why I lead this group. These girls will go out into their schools, neighborhoods and the world and leave a legacy of confidence and respect. My hope is that each and every one of them feels capable, empowered and motivated from participating in this program.
Terese McWilliams, Corps Member CYSJ