Smart Girls pairs local youth and seniors

Fred McCormick

The middle school years can be tough to navigate, but a program being launched by the Black Mountain Recreation and Parks department aims to provide valuable lessons to local girls in preteen and early teenage years.

The launch of the Smart Girls program, held in the Lakeview Community Center at Lake Tomahawk, pairs girls with senior women who have the life experience to teach girls to be themselves at an early age.

Jill Edwards, the department’s health service programs administrator, was inspired by an online program founded by the actress who played Leslie Knope in the television sitcom “Parks and Recreation.”

Actor Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls is an online community that provides a safe alternative to what is accessible to children on the Internet. The organization’s motto is: “Change the world by being yourself.”

“I learned about Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls and noticed a project that they had done,” Edwards said. “They had given lesson plans for writing letters to senior citizens, and I sent it over to Brittany (Williams) at the senior center. Within minutes she was in my office, and we were brainstorming a project where we get middle school-age girls and what we call ‘ladies with lots of life experience.”’

Edwards and Williams felt as though each group could benefit from spending time together. “They are both at times in their lives where they could use some support,” Edwards said. “Middle school girls in particular need support at that age. There is a lot of research that shows that they are at risk. That is a time when self-esteem plummets and they start being exposed to more peer pressure.

“At the same time, we know that there are plenty of seniors that live in this community that don’t have family here, and we wanted to get those groups together.”


Want to be a part of the Smart Girls program? Contact Jill Edwards at 669-2052 or You can also register at