“I like being a girl because I can speak for myself. I can stand up for myself. Being a girl makes me strong.”
“I am proud to be a girl.”
“When I wake up, I see someone who is willing to do anything to achieve my dream.”
These words testify to the undeniable power of Girls Inc. of the Northern Sacramento Valley.
This organization was founded in 2006 for the purpose of empowering girls to be strong, smart and bold. Shasta and Tehama County girls from age 6-18 enjoy in-school, after-school and extracurricular programs to build self-esteem, transform their views of themselves and help them recognize their potential as leaders, friends, innovators and independent thinkers.
Some schools offer lots of extracurricular activities, but some don’t have much in the way of after-school programs and sports. Some girls struggle with alternative living situations and lack strong, supportive caregivers at home.
“Girls Inc. provides them with an opportunity to join a safe space with someone who is their mentor,” says Kate O’Rorke, executive director of Girls, Inc. of the Northern Sacramento Valley. “They often feel more free in expressing themselves than they would be with a family member. The real emphasis is on being a safe space – they can come and be themselves. There aren’t any boys to impress or worry about, and no judgment. They’re listened to, they’re heard, they can express themselves and talk about what’s important to them and what they see in the future.”
Girls Inc.’s programs are crafted using research and evaluation by the National Resource Center. In a time when electives, physical education, music and dance are shrinking in schools, Girls Inc.’s supplemental programs help girls develop into successful, healthy adults. Sometimes it’s steering girls toward college, when their families may not have the knowledge or the means to lead those conversations. Other times, it’s looking at a school subject from a more Life 101 approach.
“They may learn math in school, but they’re not learning about practical applications of money and finance and how it will affect you as an adult,” O’Rorke says. “We give them opportunities to learn about things they aren’t always learning during the school day.”
The program typically has between 10 and 15 facilitators (they’d love to have more), and the commitment is one hour a week for 12 weeks. Last year, the program served about 300 girls. The program is growing steadily – last year, they offered one summer program, and this year, they are planning three.
Says O’Rorke: “Really, the basis is empowering these young women to be successful as adults, and to realize what their true potential can be.”
Naturally, programs like these depend on financial support from the community, and Girls Inc. offers several ways throughout the year to help out. The Girls Inc. Gala, the Strong, Smart and Bold Brunch, and The Vagina Monologues are the major fundraising events. Tickets for this year’s brunch, planned for May 15 at Riverview Country Club, are available now. The event includes a meal, announcement of the winners of the Girls Inc. NSV Legacy Council Scholarship, and recognition of community leaders who inspire others to be strong, smart and bold.
Learn more at girlsincnsv.org.