It’s all too common that young girls today are either coined bossy or bullies. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), ͞Surveys indicate that as many as half of all children are bullied at some point during their school years.͟ Whereas both genders are guilty of the practice, AACAP states that bullying by girls is more often verbal, usually with another girl as the target.
Leadership 4Girls, founded by Maria Giordano, PhD, works to build leaders in today’s generation of girls. With a shortage of formal opportunities for girls to learn how to build healthy relationships, Giordano’s program inadvertently helps combat the rising bullying situation in our communities, tackling tough topics such as the impact of inclusion and exclusion of others and how to disagree politely.
Noting that, “relationships are so important to girls”, Giordano created a summer camp in Southwest Orlando to help them connect with one another in a fun and positive way. The camp staff demonstrates how to hold open-ended conversations, the distinction between friend and best friend, and how to advocate for one’s self in a clear and positive way. Daily icebreakers, crafts and games focus on skills such as maintaining eye contact, having open body language, and being a good listener.
“It’s important to be a good leader in your own life and set goals… no matter how young you are”, Giordano points out. Leadership 4Girls teaches young ladies how to go about accomplishing their goals and how to negotiate tough situations. Camp activities encompass the objective that campers leave feeling empowered and more confident.
Pairing up, girls practice giving meaningful compliments. ͞”The majority of compliments tend to be about our appearance”, says Giordano. Leadership 4Girls aims to instill the importance and impact that comes from giving compliments about abilities and skills in today’s young leaders instead. Skits help girls embrace their newfound skills, while inevitably having a few giggles along the way.
Girls of every age group are in need of honing relationship and leadership skills that will help them become successful in life. This is why Giordano incorporates a mentor program with her camp.
Middle school and high school girls serve as role models by participating in team building activities and sharing their personal journeys.
Camp songs with lyrics like, “be strong, be true, be real, be you” resonate with the girls longer than the session. One of Giordano’s greatest joys is when parents circle back to her with tales of leadership traits that their daughters developed through the program. Her passion is to empower children with the skills to be successful in life. She dreams of the day when Leadership 4Girls is incorporated into the daily curriculum at local schools. Her favorite part about Leadership 4Girls is creating self-awareness – awareness of strengths and areas for growth in today’s generation of leaders.