It was our first meeting of "Infocus", our Girls Empowerment Group, at Killarney Jr. High. The girls quietly listened as Jen and I introduced ourselves and shared our vision for the group. We told of how we’d be diving into tough topics to support and learn from each other within a caring community.
The girls seemed nervous but interested. The vice principal had hand-selected students that could benefit from mentorship, extra encouragement, and meeting new people.
We had snacks and played a silly game to break the ice. Then Jen spoke on the value of positive self talk. She explained how often we will put ourselves down, whether out loud or quietly in our thoughts. We asked the girls to write down something negative they often tell themselves so that we could help each other think of phrases we could use to combat these thoughts. We then asked if anyone was willing to share what they had written down.
Until Lauren, softly spoke up and shared that she often tells herself, “Why are you always crying?”
My heart broke for her. Jen’s heart broke for her. This was the tip of an iceberg of hurt. Yet, it seemed some of the other girls looked at her as if they knew exactly how she felt. It was clear that we would only begin to scratch the surface on this day. Together, we gave her encouragement and heard a bit more of her story. Then, Jen and I began to discuss how we could be a support and resource to her in the future.
This is why Infocus exists. Girls like Lauren don’t have to be alone in their struggles. We get to journey with them as we provide a safe group of people who can support her, encourage her to seek help and make healthy decisions, and who will simply be there for her.
*Lauren’s name has been changed.