Smart Girls making a difference
Smart Girls is a year-round program sponsored by the Black Mountain Recreation and Parks Department for girls 11 to 13 years old.
The town started Smart Girls in 2015 on a trial basis to see how it would be received by young females in the community.
“Smart Girls is an idea that (recreation program supervisor) Brittany Williams and I developed together,” said Jill Edwards, the department's health service programs administrator. “We have continued to build and tweak it. It is a program where middle school age girls and ladies with lots of life experiences spend time together.” The older women act as mentors.
The Smart Girls program seeks to empower girls to be themselves.
“We want these girls and ladies to be smart and confident in who they are, able to ask for help and to offer it,” Edwards said.
During the school year, participants in the Smart Girls program meet after school and focus on making food and being creative and making crafts. They talk about beauty, physical activity and giving back to the community. During the summer they suspend weekly meetings and participate in a variety of scheduled activities individually and in a group.
“Some of the summer activities are low key, like hanging out with each other," Edwards said. "Some are outings, and some are volunteer opportunities as groups and as individuals."
Finding women to spend time with the girls is difficult in summer, Edwards said. The program needs more volunteers to help the girls navigate situations that the women encountered when they themselves were girls.
This summer, Smart Girls are concentrating on the Smart Girl flower bed at Lake Tomahawk and helping with the senior citizen lunch site once a week. They are attending Folkmoot USA 2016 and Shindig on the Gree as a group.
Trevia Rhodes has managed the senior citizen lunch program at Lake Tomahawk for the past 10 years and values Smart Girls’ participation because she can use the help. She likes that the seniors get to socialize with younger people.
“To date I have had only one Smart Girl, and she was great,” Rhodes said. “I start next week with another one. The girls take a little of the load off me; They get to to know the older folks a little. They deliver lunches to the tables for the handicapped people and help clean up the dining room and kitchen after lunch is over. They also play games with the senior citizens. I think the Smart Girls program can make a difference wherever they are.”
Girls 11 to 13 who are interested in participating in the Smart Girls program - and women who would like to help - can contact contact Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org.