Conversations with future female leaders in Siouxland are taking place at Girls Inc. of Sioux City, focusing on the development of the whole girl. Girls Inc. provides fun-filled, active, educational programs for girls ages 6-18 focusing on math, reading, and science. The Girls Inc. mission is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Their mission is put into practice through the Girls Inc. experience which equips girls to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers assisting them to grow into healthy, educated, and independent adults.
The Girls Inc. After-School and Summer programs offer empowering curriculum, programs, and activities in an environment which allows them to feel safe. They are encouraged to take risks in science, math, and sports that they may not otherwise attempt. The staff are trained professionals who mentor the girls in their knowledge, skills, and attitudes. The programs at Girls Inc. are meant to help girls find their voice, grow as women, and think about their futures and goals. The environment offers a sisterhood of support, high expectations, and mutual respect. Trained staff and volunteers build lasting, mentoring relationships with the girls, while encouraging them to pursue leadership positions, and serve as role models.
The Girls Inc. programming focuses on the development of the whole girl through a combination of long-lasting mentoring relationships, a pro-girl environment, and research-based programming. This approach equips girls to lead fulfilling and productive lives, break the cycle of poverty, and become role models in the community. The after-school program provides help with homework, tutoring, reading, science, art, physical activity, and more.
According to Executive Director Mandy Engel-Cartie, the Girls Inc. experience has positive and lasting effects for girls who participate. The evidence-based programming is delivered by trained professionals who focus on the development of the whole girl. This allows the girls to learn to value their whole selves, discover and develop their inherent strengths, and receive the support they need to navigate the challenges they face.
Experiences here have a life-long impact as girls discover their strengths, plan for their future, and learn how to work with others. Many of these girls who will be going to college will lead the way in their family. In addition to discussions encouraging the girls to consider higher education, other opportunities are also brought up, including learning a skilled trade. In today’s working environment, employers are looking to hire skilled workers. While women make up nearly half of the workforce, only 2 percent are women performing skilled trade labor, and that number has not changed since the 1970’s.
A new experience beginning Summer 2022 is called “Toolbox: Giving Girls Skills for Life” where girls will be exposed to hands-on work in a variety of skilled-labor jobs. The Summer theme this year is “Construction” and the girls ages 8-14 in the Summer Program will be going to construction and manufacturing sites, as well as to Western Iowa Tech Community College, to learn about and complete hands-on activities in skilled-labor trades. They will learn the necessary skills which will help them build their own wall, complete with electrical wiring, framed-in window, and HVAC runs. The Toolbox Program idea was conceived by Girls Inc. Board Member, Gail Bernstein, and welcomed by the Girls Inc. team as well as the girls involved in the programs.
The Toolbox will provide not only skills so the girls can obtain employment in a skilled-labor job, but also have the knowledge they can use in their own homes. The Toolbox program will continue throughout the year at Girls Inc. and reach out into higher sciences, including health care. Girls Inc is looking for partners for the young women involved in their programs, as well as partners for their Toolbox program. As a non-profit organization, they welcome donations for their programs as well. More information can be found at www.girlsincofsiouxcity.org, or by calling (712) 252-1088.
By Michelle Lessmann