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Programs promote girl power, self-esteem

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Schools, Scouts join to assist area girls

By Amber Coulter

County schools and area Girl Scouts have a common goal: girl power.

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They’re tired of girls shrinking in their seats when asked for answers in class. They want to stop girls from feeling fat, ugly and unable to achieve. They want to give them the tools to live healthier and happier lives.

They are using similar methods of achieving that goal.

About 10 county elementary and middle schools have a program called Girl Power that pulls aside girls to discuss topics such as body issues, standing up to bullies and having self esteem.

For the last three years, Radcliff Elementary School provided sessions to all fifth-grade girls. This year, counselors, teachers and the family resource center at the school selected between 10 and 15 girls they thought could benefit the most from individualized attention at least once each month, said Jodie Bodnar, family resources coordinator.

Girls face a variety of issues, including family troubles, bullies and poverty, Bodnar said.

“All of those issues play into how you feel about yourself and how far you think you can go,” she said.

Bodnar said some of the girls who entered the program had trouble even writing a poem about themselves. Now, some of them already are speaking up more and showing more self-confidence, she said.

That’s especially important for children their age, Bodnar said.

“They’re getting ready to enter middle school, and that’s a scary time,” she said.

Girl Power programs across the county will host a conference May 19 with Miss Kentucky as the keynote speaker. Workshops will include a career panel, Zumba and skin care tips.

The Heartland Service Center Girl Scouts have an in-school program with eight registered Scouts in the fifth-grade at Radcliff Elementary. The Scouts program, Positive Power, tries to prepare girls for middle school by addressing some of the same issues as Girl Power and other topics, including identifying with female role models and financial literacy.

On Friday, during one of the lessons the girls have every few weeks, the scouts crafted small dolls out of pipe cleaners and yarn. They were meant to represent role models.

Kayla Firsich of Vine Grove wound yarn around a pipe cleaner arm.

“I’m just making someone who makes me feel like myself,” she said.

She is glad for the middle school prep courses because every grade gets a little harder academically.

Idalis Cornelius of Radcliff said she enjoys going to the lessons because the girls there feel like her friends. She also learns things, such as how to make a healthy treat out of frozen bananas, yogurt and sprinkles.

She said she doesn’t let people make her feel bad about herself.

“Never believe what a bully tells you,” she said. “They’re just mad because you are you.”

Girl Scout branches across the state have similar programs, including some in middle and high schools that discuss more mature subjects depending on the girls’ ages. The programs also encourage diversity in the organization by reaching out to girls from different backgrounds.

Girl Scouts officials would like in-school or after-school programs such as the one set up at Radcliff Elementary to spread to other schools throughout the county and to reach more girls, said Angie Tinch, program delivery coordinator for the Heartland Service Center.

“We’ve found that girls this age love to talk about themselves and they believe anything’s possible,” she said.

One of the program goals is to keep that belief alive, Tinch said.

Tinch is slowly trying to coordinate expansion with school officials.

The program started at Radcliff Elementary because many parents of students at that school work more than one job or have other commitments. The school doesn’t have a Girl Scout troop and some of the registered scouts at the school have trouble making it to regular activities.

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.