MyEmpowerment provides life lessons to middle school girls

10

Shannon Chipman

Purdue Extension- Ohio County

Health and Human Sciences/4-H Youth Development Educator

Time flies when you are learning, having fun and getting the chance to hang out with friends. The MyEmpowerment program at Ohio County Elementary Middle School celebrated its 5th year by having sixteen 6th and 7th graders participate in the program for the 2016 school year.

This year’s program decided to celebrate successful women and girl power. The program kicked off with talking about values and the goals of what the girls hope to achieve when they envision their lives at age 50. From doctors, to being mom’s to models to career women, education was a priority for all of them.

Our second week focused on the always awkward topic of puberty and changes that young ladies go through. Certified Nurse Midwife Amanda Parker from Partners in Health in Lawrenceburg helped the girls to understand the changes that they will be experiencing and how to cope as well as how to laugh as a way to deal with maturing.

Magistrate Judge Kim Schmaltz came to visit the girls during week three and talked to them about internet safety, sexting and just making good choices. She shared stories about what can happen as a result of bad choices and reaffirmed the advantages of staying in school and furthering one’s education.

Week 4 was a physical week as Kim and Daniel Maloy of Triune Self-Defense came to the school and shared self-defense information and taught the girls physical moves to help protect themselves. Week 5 was spent working in the kitchen and learning some basic cooking skills so that healthy meals and after school snacks could be made. The girls learned how to make easy fruit salad, homemade macaroni and cheese and English muffin pizzas.

Week 6 was all about healthy relationships- whether it’s with a family member, the opposite sex or a friend. Safe Passage, Inc. of Batesville came and shared relationship tips with the girls and talked to them about having standards and being happy and equal in a relationship. Week 7 was taught by High School Guidance Counselor Carrie Jones. She shared her experiences about traveling abroad and volunteering in third world countries as a way to show the girls that there are opportunities to serve your community and your environment.

As a result of this year’s MyEmpowerment Program, 16 out of 17 girls attended 6 out of 8 sessions and were given sweat pants with the MyEmpowerment logo. All the girls were able to identify peer pressure, depression, popularity and bullying as reasons why drug use begins in the middle school years. One hundred percent of the girls understood that they can be in legal trouble for sexting or sending inappropriate content via a text message. 100% of the girls also understand the value of volunteering and community service and its importance when applying for jobs and applying for scholarships.

Purdue Extension-Ohio County would like to thank the Citizens for a Drug Free Ohio County for the grant funding that enabled this program to have the resources to work with the girls. Another huge thank you to Mr. Roeder, Rising Sun Schools Superintendent, Caitlin Sauerhage, OCEMS Guidance Counselor, Theresa Patz, Rising Sun High School FCS teacher, Carrie Jones, Rising Sun High School Guidance Counselor, Marty Morningstar, retired teacher/volunteer and Rachael Smith of Purdue Extension- Ripley County. All of the contributions by CFDFOC and the names listed above are truly appreciated for the support of this program!