The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

August 15, 2013

Girls learn how to be leaders at new camp

YWCA hosts first Girls Inc. Leadership Camp

MANKATO — Oh, how the times have changed for young woman.

Members of Girls Clubs of America wrote a bill of rights in 1951, and on the list was the right to fulfill the “almighty job of homemaking and motherhood.” And Sheri Sander-Silva, associate director of the YWCA, absolutely thinks motherhood and homemaking are important options for young women, and so do the nine girls involved in this week's first Girls Inc. Leadership Camp in Mankato.

But the point is, in the 60 years since that list was created, those things became “options.” In 2001, the national program Girls Inc. updated that bill of rights, including this time the importance of “being themselves and resisting gender stereotypes.”

Now that Sander-Silva and camp facilitator Carmono Lane brought the Girls Inc. curriculum to Mankato, the girls ages 11 to 14 have had the opportunity in numerous ways to decide what rights they have, what stereotypes they still face, and what they can do as leaders to combat a variety of those issues.

The results are telling after just four days of camp, having begun Monday and wrapping up today. In creating their own bill of rights this week, one of Sander-Silva's favorites was: “Girls can do any job without being criticized.”

Delaina Ward, 11, seemed to embody that spirit. One of her favorite things to do is play football.

“I'm really working on being a leader,” she said, adding that the camp has taught her a variety of leadership styles and arenas to implement them — school, with friends, in her community and eventually the workplace.

“You can accomplish just about anything,” Delaina said of what she's learned through Girls Inc.

For the most part the girls met in the education room at Pathstone Living from 8 a.m. to noon each day. Sander-Silva and Lane used Girls Inc. Leadership and Community Action curriculum to help the girls recognize themselves as leaders, to better understand their rights and responsibilities, and to feel empowered to champion social change.

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