Organization touts girl empowerment - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Organization touts girl empowerment

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April 30, 2007

Albany--  A south Georgia organization teaches young women to reach for the stars no matter what obstacles lie ahead of them. Teen and pre-teen girls face unique struggles as they grow up in a constantly changing world. Girls Inc. helps girls turn a dilemma into a daily affirmation of power.

This week, you'll probably hear the sounds of powerful feet or powerful testaments of rights as members of Girls Incorporated kick off Girls Rights Week.

"I have the right to be myself," chimed Girls Inc. members as they read their Bill of Rights Monday afternoon.

The purpose is to uphold a mission.

"Inspiring all girls to be smart, strong, and bold," said 10-year-old Tiara Powell. At the age of 10, Tiara Powell is already bold, made even bolder she says by Girls Inc.

"When you are scared to do something, they help you to do anything," said Powell.

A little older than Tiara, 11-year-old Jayla Leggett continues to deal with the pressures of growing up as a girl. "Math and boys," said Leggett.

But Executive Director Lakisha Bryant says the problems facing girls reach beyond school and the opposite sex. Findings from a study done nationwide called the Supergirl Dilemma proved problems can be complex.

"Contrary to what everyone thinks, sex and relationships was on that list but it's not the number one issue. Girls are grappling with how they deal and conform with the pressures to be so perfect in all the areas of their lives," said Bryant.

That's why the organization incorporates necessary life skills into daily interactions. "We focus on six different life skill areas everyday so the girls are involved in curriculums and age appropriate research based programming that helps them as they develop and giving them those life skills to make those wise choices," said Bryant.

And since the 1970's, it's worked. Before Girls Inc., Jayla struggled with peer pressure and school but now things are a little different.

"It's getting easier," said Leggett. It's getting easier to be a girl today, easier to let go of things that have a stronghold.

"It also shows them that the sky is the limit. Whatever they aspire to be, they can be it," said Bryant.

They have a right to.  It's something they call girl power.

Last year, Girls Inc. of Dougherty and Terrell Counties served more than 2,200 girls. 98-percent of their members graduate high school.

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