As fall programs ended, I sat down with each of the volunteers I work with and support. In speaking with them, I began to notice a trend – each of them had their own “ah ha” moment. They described what it was like going to their first day of programming, the anxiety of meeting the girls for the first time, and the moment they realized it was all worth it.
Each Girls Inc. volunteer is screened and trained prior to facilitating a program, and as a part of that training they have an opportunity to do a role-play. The role-play may be realistic; however, actually working with the girls is a unique experience that differs from group to group. Although each moment is noteworthy, I would like to share two that stand out to me.
As an adult, media literacy may seem like a simple concept to convey – to each other. Teaching that same concept to a group of 20 six-eight year-old girls is a completely different story. Volunteer facilitators, Julie and Anne, were two of several volunteers that took on this task this fall. In Media and MeSM the girls are introduced to what media is, challenged to think critically about the media they consume, and exposed to careers in the media. Anne and Julie used their program curriculum just as any volunteer would, and week after week as they worked with the girls they engaged them in guided activities and discussions. Nevertheless, it was not until the moment they heard one of the girls refer to the girl in a story as a “super heroine” that they knew they had made an impact.
In the age of the credit card and ATM machines, economic literacy is also a challenge for many. However, with the help of the Dollars, Sense and Me® curriculum, Girls Inc. volunteers take on this mountain as if it were an anthill. At Guion Creek Elementary School, volunteer facilitators Lindsey and Erica did just that. Dollars, Sense and Me® teaches girls ages 9-11 about the elements of money, the concept of bartering and trade, identifying career options, giving of time and/or money, bank accounts, and creating a mini-business plan. Erica shared with me that her “ah ha” moment was the day they did a supply and demand lesson – she and Lindsey noticed that the girls “really got it.”
All volunteer facilitators choose to give an hour a week for six weeks each time they sign up to facilitate a Girls Inc. program. In my opinion, the most gratifying thing in the world is knowing that those six hours made a difference – and that is my “ah ha” for now.