Girls Who Rock program plants seeds to help girls grow into better women
Emily Tek hugged Jean Jensen when she arrived in the conference room of her school while the other girls quickly began chatting with other Zonta mentors Alice Barlass and Chris Goepfert.
Before settling down and opening their workbooks, the girls enjoyed a snack and juice pack.
“It’s a fifth-grade only girls club that focuses on helping girls make healthy choices about life,’’ explained Eliza Zimmerman, program assistant at the Girl Scouts of Badger Council.
Members of the Janesville Zonta Club are collaborating with the council on the project that was funded through a $2,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, Zimmerman said.
Each week for seven weeks, about eight at-risk girls—some Girls Scouts, others not—get a chance to “rock” together at Wilson School.
Through activities, they’re building their self-esteem imperceptibly along with healthy relationships and friendships, plus learning about issues such as body image, peer pressure, bullying, violence and sexual harassment, Zimmerman said.
“We’re planting the seed to help these girls grow into better women down the road,’’ she said.
Angela Moore, local Girl Scouts executive director, explained the value of the Girls Who Rock program.
“It’s critical they see women in the working world and community leaders they can learn and hear from as role models. It opens career possibilities and improves their self-esteem in an all-girl environment where they can share without being judged,’’ she said.
Emily said she’s learned about respect while Abigale Swatzell-DeRosier said she’s learned about being nice to others.
“If you don’t respect your family and friends, then they’re not important,’’ Emily said.
“I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings,’’ Abigale said.
The girls also were given and decorated journals. In them, they’ll write their feelings weekly, and they’ll get to take them home at the end of the program.
During Monday’s session, the girls focused on their strengths.
“We are going to see what describes you best. There are no right or wrong answers,’’ Goepfert said.
Rita Hall took her pencil and wrote on the five blank lines that she was good at jumping, running, singing, playing with friends and doing hair.
Antonasia Davenport, after thinking about it for a few minutes, noted she was good at the same things Rita was but included baking in her list.
The Me-O-Meter exercise was a way for the girls to discover more about themselves by choosing words that best described them, Goepfert said.
“I’m going to be a hairstylist when I grow up,’’ Rita said.
“I can work in a bakery,’’ Antonasia said.
“You’re already thinking about your future in fifth grade. That’s great!” Goepfert said.