A crisis exists in America with our girls. Between elementary school and high school, girls’ self-esteem drops 3.5 times more than boys’. Seventy five percent of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities like cutting, bullying, smoking, drinking, or disordered eating. This compares to 25% of girls with high self-esteem. Ninety two percent of girls say they want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body weight ranking the highest.
These alarming statistics, provided by the organization Girls Leadership, show that more work needs to be done by parents, educators and caregivers to uplift our girls. Girls Leadership provides programs to teach girls skills to know who they are, what they believe, and how to express it, thereby empowering them to create change in their world. Its programs revolve around the values of inclusivity, authenticity, integrity, quality, and fun. In all, the organization reaches 10,000 girls each year.
In an exclusive interview with the New York Motherhood Examiner, Eileen Linzer, Girls Leadership New York Outreach Manager, discusses how the organization strives to provide social emotional intelligence skills. These include self-advocacy, negotiation, compromise, personal responsibility and conflict resolution. Empowering girls and honing their leadership abilities are skills they can not only use today, but also in their future via their personal and professional lives.
“When people ask what I do for work now, after so many years in corporate, I find the best explanation is this: You know that stride we all hit in our 30s and 40s? Well, we’re trying to dial that back to say, 5 or 6,” Linzer explains, “Girls Leadership and its work is some of the most important work being done in our society today.”
To create the most impact, Girls Leadership’s programs work not only with girls, but also with their primary influencers such as parents, teachers, and caregivers. Studies show the most powerful teachers for girls throughout their childhoods are their parents and teachers.
Headquartered in Oakland, California, Girls Leadership runs programs across the country. Its original and most renowned residential summer program for girls is located at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Workshops and parent education events take place in California, Colorado, New Jersey and New York where the organization most recently expanded into Long Island and Westchester.
One of the many unique aspects of Girls Leadership is its flexibility with its programs — instead of requiring participants to travel to one location, the organization goes to where the need is such as to schools or elsewhere in the community.
Workshops include programs for all ages. Parent and Daughter Workshops are divided by grades: Kindergarten/First Grade, Second/Third Grade, Fourth/Fifth Grade, and Sixth/Seventh/Eighth Grade. Other programs include Parent Education Workshops, Summer Day Camps, and Overnight Camps.
Parents of all races, social-economic, geographic locations are signing their daughters up for Girls Leadership. One noted participate is Sheryl Sandberg, LeanIn.Org Founder and Facebook COO. Sandberg tells the organization: “GL’S workshop gave my daughter hands-on practice in speaking up, resolving conflict, and finding her voice – and taught me ways to help her continue to learn.”
To sign up for programs and find out more, please visit the Girls Leadership website and YouTube channel.