SMART Girls Rising Above
What is SMART Girls?
SMART Girls is one of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Georgia’s leading youth development programs, specifically geared toward girls. Taught year-round, SMART Girls is a small-group health, fitness, pregnancy prevention/education and self-esteem enhancement program designed to meet the developmental needs of girls spanning ages 8 to 18.
Through field trips and mentoring opportunities with adult women, SMART Girls participants explore societal and personal values as they build skills. The landscape of girlhood has changed dramatically in the last few decades. Social media alone has transformed the way young people interact with the world and with their communities. Social media has become an essential part of a young girl’s process of self-discovery and identification. Now more than ever, young women need a solid foundation they can build healthy attitudes and lifestyles upon. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Georgia’s SMART Girls program helps girls build that foundation by equipping them with critical knowledge and skills in the areas of physical health and wellness, mental health and self-esteem, and relationships. Encompassing the physical, emotional, and social changes a girl will experience throughout her developmental years, this holistic approach supports them in every way.
The program’s targeted curriculum ensures girls get the right information and the right support at the right time. By separating the girls into three different age groups, the program is able to tailor lessons to the specific experiences and challenges girls can relate to. The small-group sessions are interactive and engaging, they encourage each girl to explore and express her individuality through discussions, hands-on games & activities, role-play, take-home challenges & activities, and collaborative decision-making & problem-solving. It caters to various learning styles and supports self-directed learning outside of the Clubs.
Why is SMART Girls Important?
Growing up isn’t easy. While girls today have incredible opportunities to explore their interests and capabilities, they also face many challenges. As they move from being little girls into their pre-adolescence, they start to feel pressure to be top performers in school, in sports, and with friends and family. As tweens, they feel pressure to conform and be cool – or in many cases, to pass under the radar just to make it through the day. This is especially difficult when their bodies and emotions are changing so rapidly. As girls move into their teens, they feel pressure to be connected to friends via social media – to be part of the crowd at all times.
How does SMART Girls do this?
SMART Girls gives girls the space, support, and tools to navigate adolescence and to emerge strong, healthy young adults. The Program provides education on:
- The emotional and physical changes associated with pre-pubescence and puberty
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and physical activity
- The influence of mass – and social media on attitudes toward girls and women
- Relationship management and responsibilities (romantic, platonic, familial)
- Peer pressure and bullying
- And sexual health, and pregnancy-and STD prevention; as well as information on local resources, organizations, and helplines.
SMART Girls tackles issues that girls deal with every day – from troubles and triumphs with friends and family, to struggles with body image and self-esteem, to the impact of school stress, and more – in a safe, open, and trusting environment. Giving girls this outlet to talk about experiences, and to vent concerns and ask questions, not only increases girls’ confidence and compassion; it also leads to improved performance in the classroom. And the more education girls have, the better off they are. More education increases a woman’s earning potential, meaning that she has access to higher-paying jobs. It also correlates to a greater degree of physical and mental health awareness for herself and for her family and tends to lead to later ages of first intercourse, marriage, and childbirth. In short, by providing girls with the support they need during these formative years, SMART Girls helps girls develop healthy attitudes and lifestyles that they will carry into adulthood.
To benefit our SMART Girls Program, we are hosting Rising Tide Women’s Leadership Brunch on Friday, March 25th at Yollah in Macon, Georgia.
This event will incorporate mentors from several sectors and include our SMART Girls! Hosted by Renee Bumpus, the brunch will also highlight keynote speaker, Judge Verda Colvin, and a panel on mentorship. Panelists include Sarah MacConnell Schanck (Crisis Line and Safe House), Susannah Cox Maddux (Macon Magazine), Aliayah Simmons (Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Georgia’s Youth of the Year), Dr. Ansley Booker (Mercer University), D.A. Anita Howard (Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney), and Rachel Moore (International Paper), and will be moderated by Erin Keller (New Town Macon). SMART Girls will be on site to share parts of their curriculum with attendees. Live entertainment provided by singer Kelley Dixson and painter Rhonda Sunshine Miller.