A few girls in grades four through six in Indianapolis Public Schools learned a valuable Valentine’s Day lesson in trust from the Give an Hour Indiana Real Girls Feel program.
On this particular day, the girls were creating a Valentine’s Day trinket for a trusted adult in their life. The hope is they are able to identify an adult they can go to if they need to talk about troubles, are suffering emotionally or simply have questions.
According to Give an Hour Indiana Program Manager, Sarah Hague, when she presented the idea of identifying a trusted adult she was met with quizzical stares and she could almost see the question marks above the girls’ heads. After some discussion, a few girls indicated they could talk with their mom, dad or older sister. For those who were stumped, they were offered suggestions like a social worker or teacher. She said for girls who live in low, socioeconomic neighborhoods, it’s actually quite common to perceive that they do not have an adult who they can reach out to when they need to share.
“These are very confident girls,” said Hague. “It’s just not something they thought about. But we planted a seed that they should have a trusted adult to go to and if you don’t think that you have one, here are a few options.”
Another recent activity had the girls practicing the ABCs of Mental Health by writing down a word relating to mental health for every letter of the alphabet. Examples include A for anger, C for cry and H for help.
“It proves we are introducing them to new vocabulary so they can recognize the Five Signs of Emotional Suffering in themselves and others,” said Hague. “They are able to connect what they’re learning with what’s happening in their everyday lives.”
- Teaching the Five Signs of Emotional Suffering
- Creating Healthy Habits of emotional Well-Being
- Learning the 10 risks of marijuana use in youth
Real Girls Feel participants are in grades four through six and the program takes place once a week in two schools in Indianapolis Public Schools. One school is predominantly African American students and the other school has a mostly Hispanic population.
Hague believes consistency and showing up are key to the program’s success.
“We’re there. We show up when we say we will and we care,” she said. “We are consistent and we show the girls love.”
She also credits the commitment of the school social workers, who were instrumental in keeping the program going during the height of the pandemic when schools were completely virtual.
When asked how she knows the program is having an impact, Hague said “because they show up.” The program is completely voluntary and happens during lunch or recess period. Even though it’s optional and not at all required, the girls continue to come when they’re able. Several from the Girls’ Group participated on a snow day even when virtual school was closed. “Their commitment is a testament that the program is working.”