During High School Program Orientation Night in September, girls learned how they would be supported while at Girls Inc., even during the most difficult times.
At first glance, the approximately 50 girl and family attendees in the Simpson Center for Girls were coming to hear about the basics of their particular program— how girls would gain skills to make positive change in their community; become Reproductive Health Peer Educators; or receive comprehensive support to apply to the college of their choice.
But woven in was information about how girls would be provided with trauma-informed supports throughout program as they and their families navigate the challenges of the year ahead.
“If you’re shy, we would like you to step up,” our Senior Director of Community Programs told the group of girls and families as they munched on healthy snacks. “But on those days when you feel like ‘I can’t handle this,’ we have a place for you to be here, check in, and have a positive space.”
A space to calm down, talk to safe adults, and cool off might seem like a small thing— but it actually is vital to providing a safe environment for young people who have experienced trauma. And it is just one of the trauma-informed supports incorporated into Girls Inc. programs for all ages- along with mindfulness exercises, allowing girls to have choices in the activities they do, and building strong relationships with peers and staff.
In addition, throughout programs, girls and families always have access to bilingual, evidence-based mental health services through the Pathways Counseling Center to support them with whatever they’re going through.
Girls and families left the Simpson Center for Girls that evening to face uncertain times— including, for some, threats based on their immigration status, concerns over health care, or sexual harassment at school. But they also left with the recognition that Girls Inc. will continue to be a place where girls can come to receive the support, opportunities, and safety to heal, grow and thrive.