Today’s Club Story is from Vericia Pearson, aka “Ms. V” from the Henderson Unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield. As a new employee looking for ways to connect with her members, she implemented Wonder Girl Hour in her gym programming, and it has been a HUGE success, even winning a programming award from the organization! Read on to learn more.
I think we can all agree that The Cheetah Girls sang it best- “Cause we are sisters, we stand together. We make up one big family, though we don’t look the same. Our spots are different, different colors. We make each other stronger, that ain’t never gonna change…” The meaning of this song is the exact purpose of my Wonder Girl program at the Henderson Boys & Girls Club.
Coming into the 2017 school year, former Gym coordinator Montia Johnson and I were thinking of new creative programs that would make our members feel special and empowered. The idea of Wonder Girl came from both of our personal experiences, not always wanting to do “typical” gym activities against boys who may be more competitive. I can relate so personally to this program, because I know especially for girls, we all go through the awkward tween stage of life, having the feelings of low confidence and self-image. Believe it or not I myself can even say I had a problem growing up with self-image, constantly wondering how others thought of me, especially in a physical athletic environment when playing with boys.
Time to Take Action
Although this was a program that ran previously, though under the radar for the past few years, I wanted to re-create Wonder Girl and start new and fresh, because hey! I was new and fresh! I started working at the Club in the fall 2017 school year, so I was definitely known as the new kid in town. If I’m being honest, when deciding the activities for this program I completely just winged it. I had no plan. The first day, I wanted all of the girls to get a feel of who I was, but also I wanted to learn about them too. Going into Wonder Girl hour, I felt like I was being interviewed for the Club all over again. Being relatively new, the girls asked me questions about my past athletic experiences which included playing tennis, competitive cheerleading, gymnastics, and dance with a few other fun rec sports too. After I told the girls this, their jaws dropped, screaming with excitement because they LOVEEE cheerleading and dance!!!! From that point on I grew an immediate connection and relationship with these girls, and they then responded expressing their interests with lit up smiling, jaw dropping faces.
The Sole Purpose
Wonder Girl hour is all about promoting self-confidence, self-image, girl power and working together to become young beautiful loving leaders of America. The best part about this club is I have combined all age groups to build a sense of community. I encourage my older girls to have leadership opportunities, because I LOVE for my little girls to have examples to look up to. This upcoming semester of the school year, I am creating a “sister, sister” list, where older girls will be paired with younger girls and become sisters for the rest of the year. I always say to the older members if I see them acting out. “would you want your younger sibling to act how you just did?” And I promise you almost every time they say no, and their behaviors have changed too.
Also, I have sessions with my older girls especially where I set aside time and allow conversation and connection to build where they can ask all kinds of questions, including questions relating to the female body and health. I want these girls to feel like they can talk to me about anything and everything. Growing up at this age is by far one of the scariest things, their bodies are changing, their emotions are changing and all in all they are becoming and turning into mature girls. If these girls need to talk to me, I stop what I am doing and give them my undivided attention, because trust me I know what they’re going through and I want them to know that I will always be there to listen.
With that said, I want my girls to feel nothing but special. When going through the interview process with the Club I told my boss Lauren Gann, that I want to work at the Boys & Girls Club because I want to take on the role and be a leader and inspiration to these kids. I want them to look up to me as an older sister and that is definitely the role I have taken on with these girls. They have started to call me their “play mom” and older sister that they wish they had. I know some of the homes that these girls come from, I know some of them do not have that ideal figure in their lives, so I want to be that for them. I remember on the very first day of the program after we gathered the activities I told them one of my favorite quotes. I said “I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say ‘Because of you I didn’t give up’.” Every single one of these girls have a place in my heart, I call them all my sweet pretty girls. Because just letting them know how special and beautiful they are, even when they don’t see it for themselves can change their world. I promise, because I have seen it.
Vericia is “brand spanking new,” joining the Movement in August 2017. In her spare time she LOVES to play tennis, do outdoor activities like hiking, taking lots of pictures (because hey you’ll only regret the ones you didn’t take), and spending all her free time with her friends.
What special programming have you run at your Club? Comment below or email me at ClubXBlog@bgca.org for a change to share with the Movement on the Club Experience Blog!