The objective of this course is to empower girls with valuable life skills in order to achieve their full potential. The course is based on the belief that every girl deserves to love herself mentally, physically, and spiritually, and to have opportunities that allow her to make choices that benefit herself, her family, and her community. Research shows that girls who are engaged in positive activities such as school, sports, or prevention/intervention programs are more likely to complete middle and high school, attend college, positively serve their communities, and reach their potential for future success than their peers who are not involved.
As girls begin to form their sense of self and their own opinions during their impressionable pre- teen years, they are bombarded with messages from numerous cultural and social influences, including from their parents, family, siblings, friends, peers, teachers, extra-curricular activity leaders, and from the media. Also, child development research has revealed that children begin to conceptualize gender, racial, and ability differences and begin to show signs of influence by societal norms and biases within their third year of life; therefore, it is crucial that children at the formative juncture between childhood and teen years receive consistent mentor-ship, support, and guidance. The goal of working with girls at the critical ages of 8 to 16 is to help them build self-esteem, develop life skills, and develop positive motivations so they are equipped with the tools to help them achieve their goals and avoid getting into trouble.
16-week course outline (ages 8 to 12)
1. Introduction – for the students and their parents; pre-assessment, personal values. (Parent participation is mandatory for the first 20 – 30 min of this session)
2. Elements of a Healthy Body –Part 1 – what is beauty, presenting the beautiful you, the power of nonverbal cues – posture, body language, eye contact, etc.
3. Elements of a Healthy Body – Part 2 – hygiene practices, nutrition and sleep habits
4. Self-Esteem – Part 1 – Self-respect, confidence in oneself, taking responsibility, removing negative thinking patterns, dealing with self-doubt and insecurity
5. Self-Esteem – Part 2 – Learning to accept one’s weaknesses, celebrate one’s strength, and showing compassion to both self and others; practicing integrity, self-discipline, and healthy coping skills.
6. Communications Skills – assertiveness, learning to express yourself and effectively communicate with peers, parents, and others
7. Respecting Yourself and Others – healthy relationships, boundaries, violence prevention
8. Emotional Wellness and Stability – Part 1 – recognizing and managing emotional states, stress reduction, artistic outlet
9. Emotional Wellness and Stability – Part 2 – practical coping skills for social and performance anxiety, depression, and anger issues
10. Movie Night – Queen of Katwe – inspiring true story of a girl from the slums of Uganda who becomes a chess champion. It has strong themes of empathy, humility, integrity, perseverance, and teamwork. Followed by discussion.
11. Culture and Community – celebrating diversity, diversity action project
12. Let’s Talk Social Media – prevention, online safety and boundaries, cyberbullying
13. Fitting In and Dealing with Peer Pressure – making the right choices, understanding the power of decisions and consequences, social skills and practical coping skills
14. Exploring Sexuality – understanding the changes in your body, establishing healthy boundaries, good touch vs. bad touch, recognizing and avoiding risky behaviors
15. Presenting the Best You – putting it all together, anonymous Q&A, post-assessment, brief artistic outlet presentation
16. Parenting Your Tween/Pre-teen – open Q&A session for parents, course feedback from the instructor, creating supporting home and family environment, rules and boundaries
This course is sponsored by Taylor Foundation for the Arts, a nonprofit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, with additional locations in Lithonia and Tucker. The foundation is dedicated to promoting health and wellness through participatory arts (art making rather than art observing). To find our more, please visit http://www.taylorfa.org