Lessons in female leadership: ‘Girl Talk’ marks one year at SYCC

BUCKHANNON – Today, teaching young girls the skills necessary to achieving empowerment as a woman is critical.

That’s what the leaders of a special organization that’s found a home at the Stockert Youth and Community Center believe.

And so, for the past year, SYCC has been serving as a safe outlet where pre-teen and teenage girls can converse about the ups-and-downs that come along with being an adolescent female.

Through the international nonprofit organization Girl Talk, high school-aged girls mentor middle-school tweens and teens about a variety of issues from bullying to building healthy relations, and most importantly cultivating confidence.

The organization began in 2002 when Haley Kilpatrick founded the first chapter in Albany, Georgia to help her younger sister through the challenging years of middle school.

Buckhannon’s advisor Tiffany Shaw said she was introduced to the girl empowerment program through one of Girl Talk’s partners, Thirty-One Gifts, and instantly fell in love with the organization’s mission.

Girl Talk allows young girls to share and gain perspectives on common experiences that have the potential to make a permanent impact on their lives.

“At Girl Talk, we believe there are no limits to a girl’s potential and strive to create an environment that inspires, motivates and cultivates confidence,” said Shaw. “And as we continue to expand throughout North America and beyond, we’re committed to driving the dialogue for the next generation of women leaders.”

With a foundation that sits solidly on the tenet of leadership, Girl Talk’s mission is to equip all girls ages 10-18 with the skills needed to feel confident in their abilities to lead.

“Part of the opportunity is properly educating our participants through leadership literacy, so that they can recognize the various styles, approaches and characteristics of leadership, and then put them into practice,” she said. “Girl Talk provides the platform necessary to support the next generation of women leaders through our programmatic offerings and the formation of a life-long network of leaders.”

Since Buckhannon’s Girl Talk chapter began last fall, Shaw said roughly eight middle-school girls participate in its weekly meetings with two mentors from the high school.

Each week, the mentors take turns preparing lessons and discussions to share with the younger girls. Participants may also share suggestions on what should be discussed.

Community service is also incorporated in the local chapter’s efforts. As the holiday season approaches, Girl Talk members will participate in the Operation Christmas Child project, in which shoeboxes filled with gifts will be sent to those in need.

Though the program has only been around for a year, Shaw said parents and participants are embracing Girl Talk.

“The parents have enjoyed the community service projects and watching the girls form new friendships,” she said. “The participants love getting to talk with their peers, spending time with old and new friends, and making a difference in their community.”

Girl Talk meets from 6-7 p.m. every Monday (unless school is canceled) at SYCC and is opened to sixth through eighth grade girls.

If anyone would like more information on the Buckhannon Girl Talk chapter, contact Shaw at 304-997-3641.

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