This summer, 74 area girls were able to travel to Benton, Kentucky to enjoy all of the adventure that Camp John Currie had to offer, and make lifelong memories in the process. The girls learned how to bait a hook and catch fish, how to position a bow and arrow in archery, and were able to swim in the cool waters of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. For many of these girls, it was the first time that they had ever had such an experience. According to Girls Inc. campus manager, Courtney Calhoun, one of the most rewarding aspects of her job is that many of these girls “get to do a lot of firsts with us.”
Founded with the mission to “inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold,” Girls Incorporated has been in existence nationally for 150 years, and locally for 45 years. There are over 90 U.S. affiliates that proudly served 130,000 girls, ages 6 to 18 years old, in 2013. In the last year, Girls Inc. Owensboro-Daviess County was able to impact over 500 girls between its Rolling Heights and Owensboro Christian Church locations. Through a partnership with the YMCA, girls are picked up at 24 different area schools and taken to one of the two Girls Inc. campuses, then provided transportation home. Recognized as one of the top National Youth Development Agencies, Girls Inc. is so much more than an afterschool recreation program.
In a modern world where girls are constantly challenged with pressures and temptations, Girls Inc. provides a “girls only” atmosphere where girls can be comfortable with who they are, and build the self-confidence needed to take risks. The program seeks to inspire girls for their whole life by teaching and equipping them with valuable real-world skills. These skills are taught through six core areas: Self-Reliance and Life Skills; Health and Sexuality; Careers and Life Planning; Leadership and Community Action; Culture and Heritage; and Sports and Adventure. While all of these components are necessary in creating well-rounded, dynamic young women, two of the most important areas focus on health and economic literacy. The girls are taught the importance of eating the right snacks and incorporating daily exercise, as well as how to balance a checkbook and pay bills.
One young lady that is in her eighth year at Girls Inc. shared how she felt, “It’s pretty fun there (because) they don’t just teach us, they demonstrate things for us.” She was most appreciative for the rewards that she and the other girls are able to enjoy after completing several of the classes in the state program. She smiled as she said, “Sometimes they reward you with a spa day, and sometimes we make cookies.” This young lady also pointed out the significance of the Shero award, in which the girls are asked to write about their favorite woman who has made a significant impact in their life. That woman is invited to a special luncheon and provided with a certificate of recognition.
Another area in which Girls Inc. is trying to make a large impact is in the fields of math and science. Programs have been designed in order to educate girls in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) areas, in an effort to equip them to be successful in higher-paying fields and break the stereotype that girls are not as strong in science and mathematics. Girls who are successful academically can benefit in many ways, both inside and outside of the classroom. Members of Girls Inc. have opportunities to apply for national scholarships that can pay benefits of up to $20,000 for future educational expenses.
Girls Inc. participants are also taught the valuable lesson of giving back to the community, as well. The girls have designed and implemented several ideas to benefit area individuals and businesses, including: making rubber band bracelets; running lemonade stands; and serving food at a homeless shelter. The community is such a huge part of Girls Inc. and why they do what they do. According to Calhoun, “A lot of people don’t take their work home…we take our work out into the community. That’s the good part to me.” When asked why this job is so meaningful to her, Calhoun says, “I used to want to be a teacher, but Girls Inc. found me. I used to be one of those girls, I just grew up.”
Executive Director Tish Osbourne has been with Girls Inc. for thirty years, and Courtney Calhoun has served as Campus Manager for fifteen. When others ask why they have been committed to these girls for so long, Calhoun had this to say, “I got to see how they started. Everyone has an ending. I need to find out the end of their story.”
[tw-divider]How You Can Help[/tw-divider]
If you have a heart for empowering the young girls in our community, there are many different ways that you can show your support.
- Provide healthy snacks
- Donate books to their on-site library
- Drop off supplies for arts and crafts, games, toys, etc.
- Provide vanities for the bathrooms
- Volunteer to be a guest speaker
- Invite the girls to take a tour of your place of business
- Sponsor a girl
- Donate your skills to make repairs around the center
- Build shelving for additional necessary storage
- Volunteer to help maintain the garden
- Offer your services to paint needed areas
- Monetary donations of any size are always welcome
If you are able to meet any of these needs, please contact Rolling Heights Campus Manager, Courtney Calhoun at (270) 684-7833.
Girls Inc. is a program that positively impacts and empowers young girls, ages 6 to 18 years. They offer afterschool programming from 2:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. throughout the school year, and operate from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday throughout the summer months. There are two Girls Inc. campuses in Owensboro: the Rolling Heights campus, located at 2130-G East 19th Street, and the Owensboro Christian Church campus, located at 2818 New Hartford Road. For more information on programming or on becoming a Girls Inc. girl, please contact Tish Osbourne or Courtney Calhoun at (270) 684-7833.