The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 15, 2013

Diversity Council to hold fundraiser for SURGE

By Amanda Dyslin
The Mankato Free Press

---- — MANKATO — Since 2010 the SURGE youth leadership program has helped girls from numerous backgrounds to build trust and understand and appreciate each other.

To help even more girls reap the program's benefits, the Greater Mankato Diversity Council is holding Lanes-4-Learning, a bowling fundraiser at the WOW Zone Oct. 24.

Each team that bowls sponsors one girl for the program. Individuals who want to participate can join open teams.

“There's a lot of data that shows the girls in our area suffer from a lack of self-esteem,” said program facilitator Sara Sinnard, owner of Fusion Life and Leadership. “What we're trying to do is help girls with their own life success.”

For the past 20 years, the Minnesota Student Survey has indicated Mankato girls have experienced a higher sense of hopelessness, lower self-esteem and higher thoughts of suicide than their male counterparts.

Began as a pilot program at Mankato East junior and senior high, SURGE is a partnership between the Greater Mankato Diversity Council and Fusion. The 13-week curriculum aims to help girls ages 12-17 gain a better understanding of themselves, learn about leadership, and learn how to deal with adversity they might face in school and in life in general.

Thanks to grants from various organizations and foundations, the program has expanded to other schools in the Mankato Area Public School district, including Central and West high schools. The program is now reaching between 50 and 60 girls who are identified by school counselors based on their need and potential.

Sinnard said last year that the program is aimed at girls because they were identified by counselors, more than boys, as having self-esteem issues. Sinnard wrote a curriculum, based on her iPEC Excellence in Coach Training, that involved a new topic for each weekly session.

“It’s a lot about self-awareness,” Sinnard said last fall. “They learn a lot about their strengths and their abilities to set goals and achieve them.”

The girls, broken into groups, also learn how to handle “button-pushing” and the typical drama they might experience in the bubble of middle and high school.

Eventually, Sinnard said she hopes to expand the program to other communities.

If you go What: Lanes-4-Learning, a team bowling fundraiser for SURGE When: Oct. 24 at the WOW Zone. Teams can choose between two sessions: 3-4:30 p.m. or 5-6:30 p.m. Each team sponsors one girl for the program. Cost: $300 (one team of four or five); $500 (one team or four or five); or $700 (two teams of four or five). The higher amounts include additional exposure for corporate sponsors. Registration deadline is Oct. 18. Information: Sara Sinnard, FUSION Life & Leadership, 507-278-3553 or