News: Program encourages Smart-Girl mentality during retreat
Story by Cpl. Christopher Johns
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – Girls, 8 to 18 years old, attended a day-long Smart-Girl retreat aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Aug. 16.
Smart-Girl, an affiliate of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, is a program designed to engage girls in activities that develop social and emotional skills.
The program recently awarded grants to facilities that support Smart-Girl programs. The Miramar Child, Youth and Teen Program received the funds through one of these grants to provide everything the girls would need to enjoy and learn.
“Select sites received this grant to support the program,” said Annie Scoles, training and curriculum specialist at the Youth and Teen Center. “It helps with funding for supplies, guest speakers, staff and healthy snacks. There’s a lot that these girls can get out of this program and we’re excited to have our retreat today and see how it goes.”
The program provides girls with research-based information about topics and subjects relevant to girls their age. The program works to combat rumors and hearsay from peers at school or elsewhere, and to provide accurate information, explained Alisha Harrison, Children, Youth and Teen Program manager with the center.
“This program is amazing,” said Harrison. “The girls … really need an additional outlet to be themselves and to really learn basic life skills so they can be successful. We’re very fortunate and lucky to offer these types of programs so that our children can succeed.”
Girls learn skills in communication, leadership, critical thinking, assertiveness and refusal, anti-bullying and smart social media usage, as well as other skills and techniques.
“I feel like it has really helped me grow both physically and mentally,” said Jesse James, a retreat participant and seventh-grader. “I’ve learned how we have to be responsible and the stages of becoming a young woman. I’m really appreciative that I am able to learn things here rather than at school because I get a better knowledge about things from here, not just from my friends.”
James went on to explain that she uses what she learns sometimes to set her friends straight on facts and to help other girls that she knows who might be unsure of something.
“I feel at ease; I don’t really get stressed out about not knowing things because I’ve already been taught about them beforehand,” said James. “Every activity has a learning side and a fun side, so learning about something is fun. I feel like our instructors want to teach us because they have gone through it before, and they don’t want us to feel alone. They want us to feel comfortable.”
This program is slated to continue throughout the school year in after-class sessions, helping girls learn what it means to become healthy young ladies and be well-contributing members of the community, according to Harrison.
For more information please contact the Youth and Teen Center at 858-577-5236.