Kappa Camaraderie: Encouraging Girls to Value their Self-Worth
On Monday, September 9, 2013 I had the privilege of facilitating the Kappa Cardinal Cheerleaders’ Girl Talk group. My friend, Shawnie, and founder of Parents Against Bullying invited me over to teach some character-building skills and focus on “girl” issues. The cheerleaders, middle school aged girls who were full of energy, greeted me with open arms. Immediately upon my arrival, three or four girls, who had arrived early, engaged me in conversation about school, asked me what was in my gift bag and showed me some of their cheering moves. As more of the girls arrived, they were quickly called to order by cheering coach, Ms. Shawnie. She reminded the girls of their manners and encouraged them to be on their best behavior, using words like excellence and respect to help them stay focused. Although these girls were young enough to be my daughters, I attempted to engage them by meeting them where they are in this critical stage of life. Remembering issues that I dealt with during that age, I dived into their world to find out what was plaguing their minds and hearts.
We opened the session with an ice-breaker that allowed us to get to know one another. The girls were chatty but quickly engaged in the activity, hands raised often to share their experiences with the group. I was surprised and elated by their feedback as I had previously been told that they were a hard bunch to please. As we transitioned into the main lesson of Girl Talk, Ms. Shawnie had to remind the girls of her expectations again…the girls seemed to be enjoying the activity so much that they were beginning to have their own conversations about the topic. I challenged them to draw a circle which was identified as their camera lens. Then brainstorm and write about some issues that they were personally dealing with. Afterwards the girls wrote down their best qualities inside the “lens”. I encouraged them to focus on the inward portion of their lens and not allow the external “stuff” to dictate their lives. The girls had no problem sharing some of their “issues” as Ms. Shawnie and I addressed them, encouraging them to do the right thing, providing them community resources and validating their worth.
Facilitating the Girl Talk group was a refreshing change for me. Having grown up in a house with all females and now being the only female in my home, it blessed my heart to be able to connect with the young girls and focus on ‘all things, GIRL’ again. The girls communicated and behaved like a little sisterhood. They conversed together, played together and ate a meal together and even prayed together. They even summoned me join in on their closing prayer and chant, deeming me an honorary member of the cheering squad. The camaraderie that was felt and shared during our time together was great.
A girl’s life, in this day and time can be filled with a lot of “drama” as several of them pointed out to me this evening. I thought, if they only knew how blessed they are and that many of their ‘sisters’ across the globe suffer each day to survive and thrive, they would embrace their lives and circumstances, making dreams come true and pulling up others alongside them. For an hour though, it was refreshing to know that these girls put the drama aside to bond, learn new things about themselves and build their self-confidence. After encouraging the cheerleaders to maximize their character strengths and confidence at all times and in all settings, I was touched as several of them informed me that they were leaving and reached out to hug me goodbye. I had come to be a blessing to these intelligent, beautiful and impressionable young girls and they graciously blessed me.