Spirit of Girls rocks the house
“My place of salvation.” That’s how Girls Inc. alumna Latitia Molina described Girls Inc. in a powerful talk at this spring’s Spirit of Girls Breakfast. The event also included remarks by State Representative Aaron Vega, and lots of heartening appearances by our girls—who took plentiful selfies with our crowd of 450!
Girls Inc. goes to school
We’ve always been there for our girls after school—but now, for the first time, we’re going inside the school system to reach more girls. The school? Holyoke’s Peck Middle School. The program? Living Safe & Strong, which promotes discussion of gender violence issues, safety strategies, and self-defense skills.
The write stuff
Voices from Inside (VFI) facilitates writing groups and leadership training for women in western Massachusetts who’ve been incarcerated. VFI also works with youth groups, and this year our teens have been immersed in creative writing and poetry. As Jackie, age 14, said: “Writing with Voices from Inside helps me to express myself and to have other people understand me.”
Food for thought
To distinguish between healthy and not-so-healthy choices, we’re teaching the younger girls that there are Go! foods (good) and Whoa! foods (less good). And together, we’ve been making Go-to foods like colorful salads, fruit-granola parfaits and more.
Thanks, Officer Brown
The girls have been learning the basics of self-defense, courtesy of Officer Earl Brown of the Campus Police Department serving the colleges of Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Hampshire.
Coding for real life problems
During one school break, we partnered with Holyoke Codes and the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center to present “She Got Game.” It’s a week-long computer coding workshop in which the girls i.d. real-life problems (like bullying or street litter) and design a lively video game to tackle them. Thus “Drama High,” in which a high school girl must dodge negatives (peer pressure, drug use) and grab positives (finishing homework, joining a club) and put them in her backpack.
Our teens have kicked off a Crafting Club. They’ve been raiding second-hand stores and repurposing clothing, lamps, and more with paint, mod podge and lots of creativity!
Anatomy for me
With the help of a life-size soft doll (internal organs included!) named Zelda, our younger girls are now studying all about human anatomy, physiology, and hygiene.
HPL is our BFF
Throughout the school year, the younger girls are especially excited when we take them to the Holyoke Public Library to check out books, play at the LEGO corner, and do arts and crafts.
Meet our “get fit” club
We’re so proud of our teens who, all winter, met weekly to train for Holyoke’s St. Patrick’s Day 2-mile road race. They were stylin’ at the race, in their snazzy red-and-white Girls Inc. socks (thanks to board member Becky Bouchard for gifting them!). Next year, the girls will go from walking to running!
We’re happy to report that the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club keeps making a big splash in our girls’ lives. They love to swim in the pool there, and hit the gym for lots of great physical activity too.