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Bloomington, Ill.

YWCA McLean County Helps Teen Girls Become Role Models With Their Girls Be U Program

Girls Be U program recipients come together to learn life, social and professional skills..

Young girls today have a host of challenges facing them that weren’t in play 20 or 30 years ago. In 2011, YWCA McLean County decided to help young girls in their community face these challenges with the Girls Be U Program. The Girls Be U program is a 13-week program designed to empower, educate and equip young girls with the skills they will need to be independent leaders in their community. It’s open to local junior high and high school girls and focuses on teaching life skills, social skills and professional skills that can help them become successful.

Currently, the program has two sessions, one during the school year (fall to spring) and a summer session. Each session is comprised of eight to ten girls from all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds. The program curriculum is designed for teen girls, by teen girls.  Once a week the group gets together for sessions on a variety of topics covering everything from healthy relationships, self-esteem and body image to business etiquette, financial wellness and basic survival skills.

“This program gives girls the confidence to try new things and excel at them while also improving in areas that they may already be good at” said Girls Be U Facilitator Ashlee Gilot “This program also helps them to cultivate their social skills by meeting new girls in the community, and recognizing that despite how different they may seem from each other, they are more alike in many ways than different.”

The girls enrolled in the program are not the only beneficiaries; the local community benefits as well. These girls take the skills they acquire from Girls Be U and bring them home and into their schools to share with friends and family. This creates a ripple effect of people helping other people. Additionally, the program recipients participate in service projects throughout the community to give back.

"I really enjoyed when we cooked dinner at the homeless shelter. I couldn't believe I actually saw a girl from my school there” said a Girl Be U Program recipient. “It really made me realize how important it is to include everyone and be nice to everyone because you never know what someone is going through when they leave school every day."

Girls Be U wants to continue to bridge the gap between diverse backgrounds and hopes to expand the program to more girls. This way, girls who have gone through the program can come back and mentor girls coming into the program for the first time.

Read more about YWCA McLean County’s Girl Be U Program in Pastelle Magazine and on their blog.

To learn more about YWCA McLean County’s programs, go to www.ywcamclean.org and like them on Facebook.