Do you want to connect with other Smart Girls Advisors? Interested in becoming a Smart Girls Advisor? Find out how at the end of this post!
As Women’s History Month comes to an end, we’re thinking about all the ways Club staff empower young girls to become strong women in the future. SMART Girls is our ultimate girls’ health and wellness program. Using a small group approach, girls get to spend sessions with a trusted adult talking about everything from body changes during puberty to building lasting self-esteem. We decided to reach out to a few SMART Girls Advisors to hear what they love most about working with Club girls, and to share some tips of course!
What do you love most about working with girls?
“I love being able to connect with the girls and help them see that they are stronger than they think, both emotionally and physically.” – Lynn Schreiber, Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County
“The a-ha moment when they realize they have so much more inner strength than they think. They can define their path more than they thought. When they feel their girl power.” Dione Buonto, Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Strand
“SMART Girls is their own family, everyone looks out for each other. Thursdays are SMART Girls days. The girls rush to get off the bus on Thursdays to have SMART Girls time, they ask their parents not to pick them up early on Thursdays. They take so much pride in their SMART Girls group.” – Dmonyaa Beale, Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Wilson
“Spending time with the girls, encouraging them, imparting knowledge to them and building relationships with them. I didn’t have that when I was growing up so I love being able to share with them.” – Carrika Tellington Boys & Girls Clubs of Maury County
What are the biggest challenges you’re noticing girls in your Club are facing?
“Finding themselves, and comparing themselves on social media.” – Zaria Brown (former SMART Girl turned SMART Girls Advisor), Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Strand
“The lack of strong women in the community. We are not always the greatest advocates for each other. Together you have to understand the value of who you are and the value of other strong women. We all need to play at that level, when we can teach young girls that and model that.”- Dione
“There’s a lot of different challenges, but they’re really struggling with their self-esteem. It’s easier to talk about it than it is to help them practice and actually build their self-esteem.” – Dmonyaa
What do you want other SMART Girls Advisors to know?
“The most important thing with SMART Girls is to let the girls know that you are there for them and you love them because you never know what’s going on in their life” – Tay Rollinson, Fort Smith Boys & Girls Clubs
“Let them have more voice. If you allow the girls to own their program they get so much more out of it. Ask them what it means to be a smart girl and brand it within your program. Have them take ownership over it.” Dione
“Don’t be afraid to open up about yourself, I’ve found telling them my story reassured girls that it was okay and they’d be able to do this. It builds a sense of trust with the girls and opens up a line of communication.” – Dmonyaa
“I feel the program provides an opportunity for discussion that enables the girls to look outside themselves and see the importance of standing up for others and not tearing others down.” – Lynn
“Continue to explore trending topics. Stay in the loop to know what’s going on. Listen before you react. Continue to provide community resources to assist the girls.”- Carrika Tellington
“A best practice we use is having a special time for the girls to be able to talk and vent. We allow time for them to share stuff and ask questions, but we don’t talk about it outside of the meeting time. The girls really enjoy having that time to share and talk about personal stuff.” – Ashley Hohenberger, Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County
“Get to know the individual interest of the girl and do your best to connect with that. I used the Identity Iceberg activity in the Empowered Girls SMART Girls badge on My Future to show girls just how much I knew about them.” – Taylor Brock, Boys & Girls Clubs of Salem, Marion and Polk Counties
We also learned about some of the innovative ways these Clubs are engaging their SMART Girls. The SMART Girls of Grand Strand decided to start a baby sitting service to give back to mothers in their community. They called it “Mother’s Day Out”, and allowed moms in their community four hours of much needed time to run errands and get things done. They’ve also just started their own YouTube Channel and plan on featuring videos like “A Day in the Life of a Club Kid”. At the Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club, young SMART girls are paired with older girls in a Big Sister, Little Sister program for informal mentorship and relationship building.
Are you a SMART Girls Advisor who is interested in connecting with other SMART Girls advisors, hearing about new SMART Girls resources first and getting the opportunity to give critical input to new assets? Join the community here, and be sure to check mark SMART Girls in the last question.
Not a SMART Girls advisor yet? Schedule a 30-minute phone consultation with our in-house SMART Girls manager here.
Find all things SMART Girls at www.bgca.net/smartgirls
What are your best tips for running SMART Girls? How do you empower young women at your Club? Comment below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email us at ClubXBlog@bgca.org to share!