This past Wednesday, ten more girls graduated from my ‘Girls in Gear’ program. To date, three ‘Girls in Gear’ program cycles have taken place and 20 girls have gone through the program. The latest program was held at the Vaughn-Hairston YMCA in the village of Urbancrest outside of Grove City. James Lewis and Becky Brown were such incredible hosts that I couldn’t have asked for a better facility. I absolutely love being hosted by the YMCA. The staff always treat me graciously and they have some of the best volunteers! THANK YOU!
This cycle was the biggest group I’ve had which was a great learning lesson. This cycle, the girls also worked in ‘Girls in Gear’ Workbooks I created. After each session, not only do the girls fill out what they learned in their workbooks, I also ask them questions that get them to think about themselves in a positive manner as well each other.
‘Girls in Gear’ has changed my life. I love seeing these girls on a weekly basis and them running up to me to give me a hug. They have such simple needs that I feel so overly happy that I’m able to fullfill – at least for a small chunk of time. No matter what socio-economic background you’re from, all young girls need to be empowered. All young girls need to feel confident in themselves and have that sense of self-reliance. Resources are limited in under-served neighborhoods. And, it’s usually the under-served neighborhoods that have the wide, fast streets – disconnecting neighbors from one another and the pleasntry of enjoying one’s neighborhood.
In these neighborhoods, kids at the age of nine think it’s ‘normal’ to walk in litter-filled streets, see prostitutes on the corners, and gun casings on the ground. It’s ‘normal’ for a school’s playground to close down because comdoms and used syringes were found. It’s ‘NORMAL!’ Would this be ‘normal’ in Bexley? A lot of these girls have gone through more than what a lot of adults have gone through. They are resiliant. They may be rough around the edges but once you’ve chipped away, they are smooshy and gracious and humble. I remember over the summer when ‘Girls in Gear’ was held at the Gladden Community House, I brought in helmets for the girls for our road riding sessions. Once our sessions were finished, I said, ‘keep them.’ I remember one girl saying, ‘really we can keep these?’ They were thrilled at having these fun (and chic) helmets that during the other ‘skill-building’ sessions of the program, the girls would wear their helmets. Simple pleasures.
I keep in touch with a handful of the girls through the ‘Girls in Gear’ facebook page. I always want to know what they’re doing and how they’re doing. I’m also working towards getting a handful of them to ride in 2014 Mayor’s Twilight Ride. I think they would absolutely love it. I want them to know that I have invested in them.
‘Girls in Gear’ Cycle 3 (c3) had a great addition. Mike Foley of WCBE, Columbus’ local NPR Station heard me present at Pecha Kucha Columbus about ‘Girls in Gear.’ He reached out to do a story on the program. This past Wednesday, it was aired on ‘Morning Edition.’ It was so incredible to hear how elegant and bright these young girls were, speaking to Mike.
I really look forward to watching ‘Girls in Gear’ blossom into a program that can take place anywhere. Girls need to feel good about getting their hands dirty. They need to feel good about their bodies and understand healthy decision-making through nutrtion. Girls need to feel confident in hearing their voices and hearing their thoughts out loud. Girls need to feel self-reliant when navigating their neighborhoods and streets and not feel the need to rely on anyone else.
I want to thank: Mimi Webb (Trek Bicycle), Kelly Martyn (formerly of Green Bean Delivery), Anna Hanley (Roll), Emily Burnett (Paradise Garage), Amanda Golden-Blevins (ACP Visioning + Planning), and Abby Kravitz (MKSK Design Firm). ‘Girls in Gear’ wouldn’t be what it is without the trust of these professional women. Thank you.
Enjoy some photos from GiG C3 at Vaugh-Hairston YMCA
Showing that they know hand-signals
Kelly is teaching the girls basic Nutrition Education. The girls got to sample all types of fruits and vegetables and if you can see the papers on the table, Kelly made vegetable-colored diagrams which explain the benefits of colors for fruits and vegetables!
Emily is teaching the ‘why’ behind gears and shifting
Anna is assisting the girls as they change flat tires and learn how to properly inflate tires.
Teamwork is beautiful!
Constant smiles with teaching this rambunctious crew.
Amanda is prepping the girls prior to the neighborhood walk-audit.
Taking our neighborhood walk-audit. The village of Urbancrest has no sidewalks. Mike Foley of Columbus’ NPR joined and recorded this session.
The girls LOVED Mimi. Who doesn’t.
Ten more young leaders! Hundreds more go!