By Laura Kann

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Cedar Valley is dedicated to programming that develops young people’s capacity to engage in positive behaviors, nurture their own well-being, set personal goals, and live successfully as self-sufficient adults.

Like the Iowa Women’s Foundation, we believe self-sufficiency is key to overcoming and persisting through life’s many challenges. Through our Smart Girls program, we’re able to help the next generation of young women overcome the common barriers to achieving self-sufficiency, so they can lead productive, successful, fulfilling lives.

The Smart Girls program offers age-specific information that enhances girls’ physical and emotional health. It’s a small group program that utilizes a combination of informational and experiential learning activities to help female Boys & Girls Club members develop the knowledge and skills they need to practice healthy lifestyle choices. This program is geared towards girls ages 8-17, and we currently have 35 young women enrolled in the program.

The Smart Girls program promotes positive values and behavior, while establishing positive peer pressure among young girls who are in a critical transitional period of their adolescence. This encourages participants to develop positive attitudes in the face of opposing negative pressures that so often influence behavior at that age.

Some of the topics discussed throughout the program include physical and emotional growth, body image, eating disorders, sexual myths and truths, female victimization, dating responsibility, and HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Tess Ware, Life Works Director, says:

“This program has been very valuable in teaching our young women about topics they are not necessarily learning about at home. Things like body image and healthy relationships are things that are not really being taught at schools, and surprisingly, many of our young women are not hearing this information at home. We want to give our young women as many tools as possible to be strong, confident adults, and the Smart Girls program is one way that we can do that.”

The Iowa Women’s Foundation is a partner with the Boys & Girls Club in supporting the Smart Girls program, and we are so thankful for their support!