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Girl Scouts leads the conversation about the State of Girls


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Girl Scouts are working every day to make the world a better place, but what are we doing to make the world a better place for girls?

“The State of Girls 2017: Emerging Truths and Troubling Trends” report, released earlier this year, shows a need for greater investment in girls: investment of time, skills, knowledge and financial resources. 

We believe change starts close to home, so Gateway Council hosted a community conversation to engage the local community and start making a plan for how we can all work together to improve the outlook for girls.

The panel consisted of Elaine Brown, mayor of Neptune Beach; Nicole Thomas of Baptist Health; and Imani Hope of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. They addressed questions about girls’ physical and emotional health, education, changing demographics and economics. Each panelist offered her unique perspective on the issues, but all agreed there are a few anyone can do to make the world a better place for girls: mentor, share and listen.

Girls need “exposure to successful women and to people who care about their community,” Brown said. “(We need to) share that you can be whatever you want to be.”

“Mentorship can look a lot of different ways,” said Imani Hope. “The biggest attribute is consistency and being a presence in someone’s life on a regular basis.”

The panelists also stressed that it’s important to focus our efforts on girls who don’t look like us. We as a community need to reach outside our comfort zones and outside the groups with which we normally interact and connect with girls and their families.

Through programs like Girl Scouts, girls benefit from single-gender learning environments, where they can gain the confidence to step up and speak out. They also have access to unique STEM programs and other learning opportunities that help them gain skills and knowledge to create a more level playing field with men and boys.

Girls deserve access to all possible educational and enrichment opportunities to help them thrive, regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, immigration status or age.

As a community, we have to push for more of these opportunities for all girls, especially in schools serving areas with low SES or a large minority population.

As a community, we have to speak up on behalf of girls and let them know we want to make sure they have the best opportunities to succeed.

As a community, we have to have more conversations like this one to spark the change needed to improve girls’ well-being both in Florida and across the country.

Will you help lead a discussion in your community to make a plan for improving girls’ lives? If you’d like to participate, contact TriciaRae Stancato at tstancato@girlscouts-gateway.org or (904) 421-3484.