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Girls take charge

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— At Shaker Junior High School, a group of girls have spent the school year turning into little leaders, together.

“We tried to work on our confidence and our teamwork and working well together,” said Remaz Omer, an 8th-grader.

Omer is a member of Girls Take Charge, a program in collaboration with Shaker High School that helps empower girls through frank discussions and group bonding activities.

“I got involved with Girls Take Charge because I wanted to build on my leadership skills and become a stronger role model in the community and in my school,” said Omer.

What ups the girl power factor is that high school girls create all the content, from the topics to the way they’re tackled. This year, the girls explored overcoming obstacles, being a role model, leadership, communication, public speaking, body image and boys and relationships.

“We just do a lot of the legwork and facilitating of some things but the high school girls develop the topics and come up with their lesson plans for each week,” said Stacey Angell, a counselor and co-advisor of the group.

Tulsi Patel, also in eighth grade, joined to become a better role model, too. She said the Girls Take Charge approach worked.

“What we did was really useful because they tried to get everyone involved with it so it was good and I think everyone got to learn,” said Patel.

Each session started with ice breaker games to knock down walls and foster communication.

“We had one … where we would tie one of our legs together and try to jump over hoops with them to really emphasize teamwork and communication,” said Patel. “Those are two really important skills you need.”

Angell said she saw the junior high girls grow throughout the year, individually and as a group.

“I think they came away with an understanding that they’re not alone in some of the things that they struggle with and they came away with a more positive outlook because they’re being able to talk about the problems they’re all going through,” said Angell.

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