September rocked. Just to toot our own horn: we started running programs in two new markets (Colorado and New York), kicked off Rachel’s book tour with over 1500 people laughing at her jokes, AND added our new Community page to our website. It feels great to be back in the swing of the school year and working with parents and girls of all ages—including kindergarten and first grade!
There is a lot of moving and shaking happening at GLI. Read on to catch the latest: new programs for kindergarten and first grade, new staff helping us grow, an update from the Colorado front, a new page on our website, and a story of how GLI impacted the life of one third grade girl and her family. Read on! Pass it on!
Hope to see you at a workshop or event soon! Drop us a line.
All our best,
Simone, Julia & Rachel
Kindergarten and First Grade Programs
Shannon Keane, our official Elementary Education Consultant, is taking GLI to new frontiers. Shannon joined GLI in 2009 as a Teaching Counselor at our summer camp and she’s been gracing us with her talents and educational expertise ever since.
For months, Shannon has been researching the social strengths and challenges of our youngest GLI sisters: girls in kindergarten and first grade. In October Shannon will be piloting our first workshops for these girls and their parents. We’ve got friendship skill cards, new stories, new games, and thirty families signed up to take part. Research has shown us that girls as young as Pre-K struggle with relational aggression, but we will be giving girls the tools to recognize it and know that they have other options for handling difficult emotions. We are thrilled to have our friends at Grace Church in New York City partnering with us on this exciting effort.
The Word from Colorado
Just over nine years ago, I discovered I was pregnant with my first child. When my daughter was born, I was overwhelmed with excitement…and fear. A girl? How will I raise a girl? Memories of childhood flooded my mind. Let’s just say my middle school years would make a great Lifetime movie event, complete with social bullying and avid girl drama. On top of that, stories from my friends of challenges their daughters were already experiencing haunted me. I dreaded this for my daughter. How could I help make it easier for her?
A few months after her birth, while shopping in our local bookstore, I picked up Rachel Simmons’ Odd Girl Out. Ah-ha…someone who really gets it and isn’t afraid to stand up and take action. “Every mom of daughters should read this book,” I touted. So often I’ve heard women say “middle school is a rite of passage; we all eventually make it through.” What’s often left unsaid, however, is that we don’t all make it through unscathed.
Fast forward to 2008, my daughter is in first grade, and initial signs of girl relationship challenges are already alive and well. At this same time, my daughter’s kindergarten teacher eagerly shared about a recent weekend she had just completed with her middle school daughter with none other than…Rachel Simmons. No way. That is way cool. And, what’s more, the co-founder of her organization, Girls Leadership Institute, would be in Colorado in just a couple of months — at our school! Ah…the stars were aligning. After Simone’s visit to Boulder, I contacted her with a “you don’t know me, but I want to bring GLI programs to Colorado.”
So…here we are…just over a year and a half since that initial contact.
I am so excited to be part of the GLI Colorado team, eagerly and ambitiously bringing these amazing, girl-empowerment programs to our community. And the reception from this community has been overwhelming. Thank you to all.
Eight years after my introduction to the world of Rachel Simmons and her powerful girl-empowerment work, my daughter and I will complete our final night of the Real Parents, Real Daughters workshops for 2/3 grade girls. As the workshop comes to an end (which saddens my daughter immensely), our real work is just beginning. For now, we are both challenged with living up to, and using, these new skills we have learned, taking them out of the classroom and into our lives. It is not easy, but we are committed and determined!
I can’t tell you how elated I am that girls in our community will now have the opportunity to participate in GLI workshops and camps, learning these critical skills and using the GLI toolkit, with the goal that their experiences in middle school (and far beyond) do not have to be written off as a painful “rite of passage”. Rather, they can confront them with authenticity and healthy confidence. Conflict and relationship challenges will occur, no doubt; it is our goal to equip girls with the skills to handle what comes their way and come out ahead.
— by Nathalie Pratt
How Do You Feel?
Shhh! Want to know a secret? GLI’s How Do You Feel? poster is much more than a cool decoration: it’s a sly and valuable communication tool that has the power to change how you and your daughter express yourselves.
Recently, my second-grader, Angela, and I attended a Real Parents, Real Daughters workshop. Angela isn’t one to easily tap into her emotions or be able to communicate what she is feeling. I had high hopes for the workshop and it more than delivered. We learned some helpful tips and tools, which I was eager to apply in ‘real life’. At the end of the last workshop, Angela spotted the colorful GLI How Do You Feel? poster, which we purchased, and Angela proudly taped it up in her room, right next to her posters of adorable kittens and puppies.
Fresh from the workshop, we began to use our new GLI tools. As hard as Angela tried, it was still difficult for her to describe her feelings in different situations. One day, she was wrestling with words to tell me what was upsetting her and that’s when it happened: she ran into her room, stood before the How Do You Feel? poster and started pointing to the various emotions she was feeling. It was truly break-through for her — finally she could tap into her emotions and name them! She had an emotional vocabulary!
We have since moved the How Do You Feel? poster into our kitchen and refer to it daily as we talk about our highlights and lowlights at dinner. Our entire family has benefited from the poster, as we each tell about our experiences and the resulting feelings. We even made it into a charades game where, for example, someone tells about their highlight and imitates the icon face on the poster. The rest of the family tries to guess the exact emotion.
Not only has the How Do You Feel? poster helped Angela tap into her emotions and talk about them, but it has also made her more aware of the feelings of others. She has developed a better understanding of herself, as well as an appreciation for the different ways that other people feel. Overall, she feels more confident and better able to communicate.
Who knew that talking about your feelings could be so easy and fun? Maybe the sly GLI poster can help you and your family, too. But remember… shhhh, it’s a secret!
— by Jessie Chan
New and True
We are excited to welcome Kristin Courtemanche to our GLI family. Kristin joins us as Director of Operations, bringing business savvy from her publishing and media background. Her daughter Frances is in third grade and they are both eager to enroll in a Real Parents, Real Daughters program together to get their goofy on as well as learn how to improve their communication at home and in the world. (Kristin would like you to know she also has a four-year-old son, Marlowe, who is equally fabulous despite the fact that he is not actually a girl.) Kristin will be handling all the critical office stuff and freeing up the rest of us to do what we do best – teaching and workshopping and camping with YOU!
If you’ve checked out the GLI website recently you may have noticed something new: that’s right, we’ve revamped our community page and are now posting essays and articles written by our very own Real Girls! From body image to bullying, confidence to conflict, these thoughtful and honest reflections cover every topic imaginable and are great examples of how our GLI skillz can serve us in the real world. And it’s an awesome way to stay connected and continue to be part of our GLI community even when we’re NAC (Not At Camp).
While you’re there, don’t forget to watch the Today Show video clip, check out the latest blog and book tips, and even follow our Twitter feed for real-time GLI goodness. Share the link with your friends so they can see examples of Real Girls in action.
Want to be a contributor? Send us your submissions!