Empowered, enthusiastic and engaged. Those are the words to describe the girls taking part in the ShineGIRL program at seven schools across the city. The nine-week self-esteem program is designed for girls in grades five-12. Mentors from Partner in Education, Wave City Care (WCC) collaborate with school staff to lead activities focusing on self-worth, positive decision making and building resilience. The mentors help the students set goals for the future and encourage them to identify their personal strengths to help the young girls SHINE!Currently, Pembroke and Williams Elementary, Larkspur and Lynnhaven Middle, Renaissance Academy and Landstown and First Colonial high schools are partnering with WCC to provide the extra individual attention and interaction that is the foundation of the program. Flexibility is also a key factor in the program’s success at the schools, as some sessions take place during lunch or health blocks while others are part of an afterschool program.“We want girls to realize their value and true potential so they are able to achieve their dreams,” said Sarah Hummel, ShineGIRL Director. “It’s important to equip our girls with the confidence and skills they will need to control their destinies. I know they have many contributions to make that will positively impact our world.”
At a recent meeting at Larkspur Middle School, girls took part in activities centered on peer pressure. Mentors, staff and students listened to and shared their own personal experiences and struggles.
“I’m surrounding myself with everyone who will encourage and support me,” said eighth grader Kaela Jones, “and I’m determined to work hard to live the life I want.”
*This article was contributed by Laura Smart, partnership coordinator for Virginia Beach City Public Schools.