It’s so hard to pick favorite stories from all the fun times that program leaders have with Girls Inc. girls! But we asked our Girls Inc. program support coordinators to pick their favorite moments anyway, and their responses really show what it means to work with the strong, smart, and bold girls of Indianapolis.
This cycle, I had an awesome pair of volunteers who really bonded with their girls. At the end of every session that I visited, the volunteers would get bombarded with hugs because the girls did not want the session to end. Their program recently ended, and when asked about their favorite memory over the 6 weeks, one girl enthusiastically said “This was the BEST TIME OF MY LIFE!” She also wrote that in as an option on her Girl Survey.
While checking in with another one of my site contacts, she expressed how much fun her girls were having this cycle and how they were truly bonding as a group. They are doing Project BOLD this cycle, and they get so excited when they remember it is Girls Inc. day. She told me “It’s like they have their own secret code. They will stand in their “ready” stance in the hallways and they ask so many questions during the sessions.” The facilitator is always so impressed at the girls’ enthusiasm each week.
When I myself was leading Redefining Beauty at an elementary school, I often shared my personal experiences with girls from when I was in their grade. The topic that day was self-confidence and I told them about a time when I had to sing in a school play (I cannot hold a note, mind you). They asked me if I still remembered the song and I told them that I did. They asked me to sing it—on the spot! I was not into it, but I knew it would be a demonstration of my self-confidence. So sing I did. Very loudly, and out of tune. Eventually, some of the girls joined me. We sounded like cats in an alley, but we were bold and it was worth it!
It’s hard for me to pick an exact favorite story – there are so many to choose from! But, I’d have to say one of my favorites comes out of the Work It Out program. We were completing a cyber bullying and internet safety activity one day in my program, and I could tell it was especially clicking with the girls. Specifically, we were getting a good discussion on posting pictures of vacations. We told the girls how important it is to post pictures on social media only after the vacation is over, instead of posting them when you’re still away on the vacation. It was cool to see the “aha!” moment when all of the girls realized why they should do this, and when they decided to apply it to their own future social media practices.
Back in the summer of 2008, I was fresh out of college and working at the Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis summer camp. I met many remarkable girls, some of whom continue to be involved with our organization today. One of those girls was Courtney Clark, an 11 year-old at the time. Since it was an election year, we included some activities to teach the girls about our election process, including a program I led called She Votes.(http://www.girlsinc.org/supportus/girls-inc-she-votes.html)
In the course of that program, our older girls (the 9-11 and 12-14 year-olds) conducted mock debates on subjects like “Should 16 year olds be allowed to get their license, or should the age be raised to 18?”, among other topics that the girls would have strong opinions on. Courtney was one of the girls who really shined during these debates, standing out due to her confidence and her persuasive articulation of her arguments. I remember thinking, “This girl is going places one day!”
Fast forward to the summer of 2017, where Courtney was one of our featured speakers during our Touchstone Awards. Once again, she was an incredible speaker, talking with emotion, humor, and confidence about the seeds planted during her time at Girls Inc. which led her to majoring in Business at IUPUI, where she is currently a senior. Not only did she have an amazing impact on our Touchstone Awards, but she has a positive impact every week in her role as a seasonal staff member leading Girls Inc. programs. When she shares with the girls that she used to be a Girls Inc. girl just like them, you can see their faces lighting up, thinking that one day they can be like Ms. Courtney. To me, Courtney’s story truly epitomizes what it means to be a Girls Inc. girl— striving for your own success, while reaching back to help the girls and women who come after you.