In a time when the importance of female social, emotional and physical empowerment is on the forefront of social media and news headlines, HERstory Girls Leadership Program is an opportunity to give young girls the voice they deserve in a safe and nurturing environment. This cohesive leadership program uses writing to both listen to and reach young women. This program combines Social Emotional Learning with Common Core standards, making it an ideal venture for a school setting.
Aimed at middle and high school aged girls, the HERstory curriculum consists of 50 to 60 ready made and interactive sessions that are already prepared for a school, after school program or community program to begin implementing with the staff and volunteers they already have in place.
It is about building relationships and networks because, with that, leaders are born. Girls form relationships not only to their fellow participants but to their group facilitator. Even more empowering is the awareness the girls develop of the connections they have within their school community. This results in a real life environment in which to practice what they are learning instead of learning skills in an artificial environment lacking every day social supports.
With this goal of both inward strength and outward connection in mind, the program focuses on Community Building, a Writing Workshop and Creative Output as a three prong approach building leadership skills.
HERstory is meant to be a preventative intervention that reaches girls before they find themselves feeling alone or in crisis. While crisis intervention is certainly a needed approach, HERstory believes that reaching girls before they face the harsh realities of the world is key to building strong, confident and emotionally healthy women.
The HERstory curriculum includes a separate writing program for both high school and middle school young women. Each unit touches on a topic that encourages the participants to explore their own connection to Identity, Those Closest to You, Body Image, Love & Relationships, Heritage/Tradition, Dreams and Legacy. It also provides an opportunity to share and learn from the other female participants.
This program has proven to be successful in meeting its goals. In those that complete the program, it has been shown to increase conflict resolution skills, academic self concept as well as peer support behavior. It has also been found to decrease the use of verbally and physically aggressive or anti-social behavior as well as tolerance of that behavior from others.
The success of the program is not only seen by those who have done it, but by outside groups who value programs with such a positive message. It is the winner of the Promising Practices in After School from the Academy for Educational Development which is a project that looks to bridge the gap between the youth programs, schools and child care programs. It has also won the Center for Youth Development Practice Award from the Character Education Partnership. This character program looks to reach young people to be ethical and engaged citizens.
HERstory is more than an investment in the girls themselves. It is an investment in the communities in which they will live and work, as well as the young girls they will one day mentor. The successes of the program are truly a win win for the individual participants as well as the far reaching global community that these girls will one day touch.