Along with several other SCYM programs, GirlPower kicked off this past week for Clark and Schaefer Middle School kids. This is the fifth session (summer or semester) we’ve run the program, which is a partnership with the YMCA and focuses on health, beauty, fitness and self-esteem. I remember when the idea for GirlPower first came about, and I sensed right away it was a “God thing,” just a gut feeling that this was a program we needed to create. The previous school year, I had met so many kids from Clark who had suffered the loss of a parent or loved one, it was almost unthinkable. Only in middle school, these kids were already bearing pain from accidents, illnesses, sometimes just really bad decisions – drugs, alcohol, recklessness. The saddest part to me was how many of these situations were avoidable, if only the person involved had had a healthier lifestyle.
It’s almost always on my mind that these kids are, statistically speaking, going to repeat the mistakes of their families, unless somebody helps them find something different. That’s how GirlPower came about. The thought was, what if we help girls develop healthy lifestyles – not just learning how to exercise and eat right, but also make good decisions and have healthy relationships, all from the foundation that they are a person valued by God.
So, twice a week, a group of middle school girls gather with a bunch of volunteer leaders from Wittenberg University to exercise, cook, talk, journal, work out problems, have fun together, and a host of other great activities. Aubrey Herbst, who’s our new GirlPower Director this fall, says “The pressures of middle school kind of just disappear when they’re at GirlPower.” Girls who have learned to deal with relational problems by arguing, fighting, and spreading rumors instead find a safe place to talk things out and bond with others that they normally wouldn’t hang out with.
Can you tell this program has a special place in my heart? I hope we can bring some more good stories over the semester about cool things that are happening at GirlPower. This is the kind of stuff that we’re all about, making a real difference in one life at a time. The impact happens little by little, over time, and it doesn’t always work out the way you want it to. But I truly believe that we’re in the right place and doing the right thing.