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Girls take charge

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— Getting advice coming from high school girls who represent what they’ll eventually become made a big difference in the junior high schoolers opening up, said Angell.

“Having those high school role models tell them they went through the same thing and they survived I think is really strong for them,” said Angell.

Omer said her comfort level allowed her to get more out of the program.

“I felt pretty comfortable in the group since we all knew each other and I think it came to me naturally because we’re so comfortable with each other and got along together,” said Omer. “I have a little bit of trouble with confidence but … it kind of built on to our confidence and gave us skills to be better role models in our community.”

The girls recently spent an afternoon with well-known leaders from the community for a panel discussion and group work. Benita Zahn from WNYT, Paula Mahan, Town of Colonie supervisor, Dr. Fatemah Shadi, a scientist and Dr. Shannon O’Neill, director of women’s studies at Siena College were among the visitors.

“They talked about public speaking and how it was a big impact on their community,” said Omer.

Patel said hearing women they all know and look up to talk about their own struggles and offer advice was eye-opening.

“They talked about how you may not be certain with what you may do in life in the future but if you work hard … you’ll be able to do it,” said Patel. “It was really helpful because these people we all look up to … and it was really cool seeing someone there talking to you one-on-one about their life experience.”

Omer and Patel said they’d recommend other girls join Girls Take Charge.

“It really helps you out. I think it made a really big impact on me confidence-wise … and I feel like if I really put forward my best effort I can really make a change in my community,” said Omer.

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