Established 25 years ago in Austin, Girls Empowerment Network envisions a world where all girls believe they are powerful people. To that end, the staff, along with trained volunteers (many from professional groups or universities) provide support and hold weekly sessions for girls within their school environment. They have toggled between in-person and virtual sessions, depending on the current health-mandated climate. The focus is to promote confidence, to establish a relationship with an adult who cares, to provide a safe environment for communication, to build lasting friendships, and to aim toward eventual self-efficacy.
Specifically, 6th grade students in Georgetown have been served at Tippet Middle School, and, 7th and 8th grade girls from Forbes Middle School have been recipients of Girls Empowerment Network’s guidance to date, for a total of 35 participants so far this year in Georgetown (and 530 overall in Central Texas.) Mainly, students are made aware of these groups from referrals of counselors and/or teachers as well as introduction meetings in the schools sponsored by the Girls Empowerment Network team. Every participant receives a “Spark Kit,” a box containing a journal with self-guided activities that can be taken home. Both English and Spanish are addressed. Topics, for example, include: What’s important to you? How can one be a good friend? What makes for healthy relationships?
It is no doubt that these students have benefited because the strains of the times we have been living in the past 2 years have produced high anxiety. The managers shared how difficult it is to be a young person attempting to understand the world around her. Stress management is maintained through communication and sound feedback. Thanks to the support of monies from organizations such as SoS, these established focus groups can continue to make an impact on girls during a very important stage of their lives.