The girls’ volleyball team and members of the debate team at Lang Middle School challenge themselves to a different type of victory. They were selected by Tajuana Brewster, Volleyball Coach and Teacher at Lang to participate in a Girls Inc. afterschool program funded by the Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO) Department to learn more about themselves and the world around them.
The students meet virtually every week with a Girls Inc. facilitator who engages them in topics such as “Girls Take Another Look” which focuses on exploring a variety of media and analyzing obvious and hidden media messages. They learn to question the media’s focus on appearance and narrow definition of beauty and how to influence the media by communicating their opinions.
District girls also participate in “Mind and Body” which promotes whole health for girls, helping them recognize the many factors including physical and mental wellness that contributes to their health. The classes also include body image, physical activity, nutrition, and stress management.
“In partnership with schools, Girls Inc. focuses on the development of the whole girl,” said Sherri Cook, Director of Partner-Based Programs – Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas. “We address all aspects of a girl’s life and help her to discover and develop her inherent strengths. Our programs are intended to help girls grow up healthy, educated and independent and inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold.”
Participating in afterschool programs helps students hone their decision-making skills, personal identities, social connections, and attitude toward academic and career pursuits. For several years the ELO Department has offered numerous middle school programs throughout the district during afterschool or summer. Two of the key components that are always included in the programs are leadership and health/wellness.
“Keeping middle school students in afterschool programs can be challenging at times,” said Coach Brewster. “The key is to find programs such as Girls Inc. that can connect them in a way that keeps them engaged.”
During student’s adolescent span they are gaining more independence. These components are vital for them to learn to make responsible choices for themselves, their families and their community. While participating in the program the young ladies came up with their own vision.
“Become so confident in who you are that no one’s opinion or rejection can ROCK YOU!” Coach Brewster tells the girls during each class, “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be Yourself! “