For middle and high school girls, Girl Central at the YWCA is the place to be after school! Our Girls Club helps girls navigate through the confusion, challenges, chaos and craziness of middle and high school by offering after-school activities that help them build self-esteem, stand up for themselves, feel comfortable in their own skin, plan for their futures, and just be themselves.

Our STEAM program not only gives girls science seminar credits and prepares them for entry into science magnet programs; it gives them a head start in understanding the fields of science, technology, engineering, art and math so they can pursue college study and even careers in these fields.

For girls who want to express themselves and be active, Girl Central offers dance classes and GirlFit, where they can try out sports they’ve always been curious about. Yep, no spectators here! And then there’s the annual Girl Central Showcase — a powerful culmination of their learning and experiences expressed through dance, role play, spoken word, comedy and more!

But enough about the program description — what are girls saying about Girl Central? How is it changing their lives? Why should you send yourdaughter, granddaughter or niece to Girl Central?

Read on and find out!

Leila Ben Abdallah,6th grade

My name is Leila Ben Abdallah and I am a 6th grader at John Adams Middle School. When I first came to JAMS, most of my friends were attending other schools, so I had no friends. And my old, more distant friends just ignored me. So, I decided to try something new. I signed up for Girls Club with the YWCA and it was more fun than I thought it would be.

Not only do we help each other with homework and play fun games, but we have awesome events from parties, dances and fundraisers, to sleepovers and workshops, with endless activities, not to mention our laughs that we share and the junk food that we are rarely fed.

Angela and Mandy are really trustworthy and fun. We talk about serious issues, difficult social problems, and we aren’t afraid to speak out. Most importantly, we do cool activities that bring us together and make us forget our problems. Girls Club supports me and empowers everyone. I am so glad I joined the program, for I have made new friends and have learned so much. I am looking forward to signing up next year!

Alexis Garcia, Girl Centralgraduate

Hi my name is Alexis Garcia
When I was young all I wanted was to be beautiful
I would spend hours in front of the mirror picking and grabbing at my stomach
Thinking that if I could just pull off that extra fat
If I could change the shape of my nose
If I had clear skin
Then finally
Finally
People would see me as beautiful
I was obsessed with my looks and trying to fit the image I had in my head of the
Perfect girl
I had to be thin
I had to have long soft hair
I had to have tanned skin
And I had to be tall
I craved the validation of people’s approval of my appearance because being
Beautiful is the MOST important thing a girl can strive to be.
Right?
After seven years of being at the YWCA I have learned something very important
Who I am as a person cannot be encompassed by the one-dimensional idea of the
Kind of beauty that is only visible on the outside
The number stitched into my jeans cannot show you that I am a dancer
My beliefs do not lie in the color of my eyes
The contours on my face cannot begin to tell you the story of my life
The YWCA has taught me that the most beautiful part of me is on the inside
It resides in the effort I put into fulfilling my goals
In my loyalty to my friends
And in my dedication to the places I volunteer at
I now know that I shouldn’t care about how others perceive me because the only
Person who truly knows my worth
Is myself
I am intelligent
I am brave
I am talented
I am a leader
But I no longer desire for someone to call me beautiful
I know I am much more than the features on my face
I am thankful for how much the YWCA has taught me and for pushing me to realize
The beauty I’ve always had inside
My name is Alexis Garcia
And I am beautiful inside and out

Angela Walton Soto is the YWCA Director of Youth Development.To find out more about Girl Central, visit www.smywca.org, call (310) 452-3881 or follow Girl Central on Instagram at @girlcentralywca.

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