Today we want to spotlight one of our dedicated program partners, Erin Good-Whiteford! Erin is the school counselor and Girls Inc. site contact for SENSE charter school. We asked her a few questions about her experience working with Girls Inc. and how it benefits the girls involved.
Why do you think Girls Inc. programs are important for students?
Girls begin solidifying what they think it means to be a female at an early age. Unfortunately, they’re often bombarded with a narrow view of what that identity can be. Girls Inc. programming helps to expand their views and create opportunities for open, thought-provoking discussion that helps the girls determine their own meaning of being a female. Girls Inc. programming also provides our girls with practical tools that serve to empower them, such as conflict resolution skills and self-defense moves.
Have you been able to witness the impact of Girls Inc. programs? Please provide an example.
Girls Inc. programming impacts our students far beyond the period when they are participating in programming. The girls often bring up material that they learned in Girls Inc. during classroom discussions and classwork. For example, a student who participated in Girls Inc. was in a class where students were writing poems about themselves. This student, many months after programming had ended, finished her poem with “I am strong, smart, and bold.” In addition, Girls Inc. provides our students an amazing, safe community that many of our students are longing for!
What types of challenges do you see girls facing in school today?
Girls today are struggling with poor self-images and self-confidence. The negative self-talk about themselves, their abilities, their worth, and their bodies starts at an alarmingly young age. I’ve heard a kindergarten girl say that she needed to stop eating so much because she was “fat.” I had a second grade student tell me that she wasn’t good at math because “boys are the ones that are good at math and science.” It also seems to me the amount of media girls (and all children) are consuming presently makes them even more susceptible to unfavorable comparisons. Many of our girls express dissatisfaction with their personality and appearance in comparison to someone they follow on Instagram, their favorite YouTube star, or a celebrity they see on TV. In addition, these girls are exposed to negative situations in real life that contribute to their perception of being female. This includes demeaning comments about females, their roles, and their abilities, and witnessing or being victims to violence against women in their homes and communities. Realizing their true worth and potential is a huge challenge facing our girls.
Thank you for your dedication to inspiring girls to be strong, smart, and bold Erin!