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One of the many goals of Girls Inc. is to inspire girls to become strong, smart, and bold. What is the story behind the start of Girls Inc., and how long have you been around?
In the United States, Girls Inc. was founded in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War. Across the decades – and across the border to Canada – we adapted to meet the specific environmental challenges facing girls and young women, always working in partnership with schools and communities, and guided by our founders’ fundamental belief in the inherent potential of each girl. Woven into those early girls’ clubs are the same core values of Girls Inc. today: the importance of creating a safe gathering place for girls to learn and to share in a sisterhood and a strong premise that each girl can develop her own capacities, self-confidence, and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.
Can you give us any examples of the kinds of programs girls can get involved in through Girls Inc.?
The network of local Girls Inc. nonprofit organizations serves girls ages 5-18 at more than 1,500 sites in 350 cities across the United States and Canada. Our evidence-based programming is delivered by trained professionals who focus on the development of the whole girl, supporting, mentoring and guiding girls in an affirming, pro-girl environment. Here, girls learn to value their whole selves, discover and develop their inherent strengths, and receive the support they need to navigate the challenges they face.
Girls Inc. girls live healthy and active lifestyles and are less likely to engage in risky behavior; they are eager to learn, successful in school, and more likely to graduate from post-secondary education; and they display diligence, perseverance, and resilience.
How can sport be a place to encourage confidence and self-esteem building?
At Girls Inc. we know girls to be inspiring and extremely capable but they aren’t always treated that way in their everyday lives. Programs like Girls Inc. enable girls to get outside their comfort zone – or comfortable stereotypes about girls and what they can or can’t do – and allow them to see their own capacities and capabilities. Sport, or movement of any kind, can provide a window into how differently girls and young women can see and use their bodies. This can be a very perspective-shifting and transformational experience. In a world that would paint girls as “pretty,” Girls Inc. sees girls as “pretty fierce.”
You describe providing a pro-girl environment; can you share more about what that means?
A pro-girl and girls-only environment that is physically, socially, and emotionally safe and confirms that girls can succeed and deserve to be taken seriously for the persons they are now and the women they will become.
How can we show girls the potential of what they can be in the future?
Girls and young women who participate in Girls Inc. programs have the opportunity to expand their learning and experience beyond their families, schools, neighborhoods, and communities. They are encouraged to think about and dream about the future possibilities for their lives while being exposed in new, fun, and innovative ways to STEM, leadership, finances, politics, and much more. Representation and exposure matters for girls and young women and are central components of the Girls Inc. Experience.
How can people get connected with Girls Inc.?
Girls Inc. is a bi-National network of local affiliates providing programs and opportunities for girls and advocating for legislation and policies with girls. www.girlsinc.org is the network website and local affiliates can be found there, including the five Canadian sites located in Northern Alberta; York Region; Durham Region; Limestone, Algonquin and Lakeshore Region; and Upper Canada (Leeds-Grenville). For a local connection, firstname.lastname@example.org