It isn’t rare for a teen girl to have low self-esteem or doubt, experts say. Today, social media, television and magazines seem to harm more than help and breed insecurity in young girls.

Enter the Girl’s Rule Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in 2007 and dedicated to helping girls ages 12-18 see their potential and believe in their dreams.

CEO and cofounder of Girls Rule Dena Patton said she and the three other founders met while volunteering at another charity.

“I think everyone has their own purpose that calls them, and ours was empowerment and education for girls,” Patton said.

She said they thought the charity they were volunteering for and others were missing an important aspect of girls’ development. “We thought that no one was addressing skill sets and self esteem and leadership directly,” she said.

Girls Rule builds those skill sets through their five programs including their Brilliant, Beautiful and Bold workshop, Dream Big workshop, dreamLAB after-school club, Wings to Fly Summer camp and Shine Brightly Mother-Daughter Summit.

“Self-esteem is a crucial element of success,” Patton said. “You can take anybody and look how their self esteem has helped them in their life and career.”

The workshops are free to groups of 10 or more. Girls Rule has presented them to schools, Girl Scout troops and clubs. Girls Rule workshops and programs are for girls in grades 7-12.

Mesa resident Jennifer “Sparkle” Johnson, Advocate Team Director, said she calls herself the Girls Rule cheerleader because she brings in people from the community and lets them know Girls Rule’s message. She helps spread that message through Facebook posts, email blasts and building a team of cheerleaders to empower and inspire girls.

“We think about everything from their social skills, their self worth and image, their grades,” Johnson said. When girls believe in who they are, Johnson said, they participate more and get involved at school and extracurricular activities.

Bringing her extensive background in training and leadership development to Girls Rule, Judi Pine-Sellers trains the presenters and helps with facilitator certifications for Girls Rule as a community liaison.

In February, 29 women, including Gilbert resident Saralinda Abitbol, were trained to teach the Brilliant, Beautiful and Bold workshops. Twice a year, they hold “train the trainer” days.

“The trainers have to demonstrate the learning points in the workshop, but they also have to be able to demonstrate speaking and facilitation skills,” Pine-Sellers said. “We have to make sure these women can work with the girls and the girls get to participate.”

After girls participate in workshops, Pine-Sellers said they “have the power to turn off that voice in their head that tells you you’re not good enough. We’re training them to not listen to it.”

Girls Rule also offers the dreamLAB, a 12 week after-school club to help girls work on their dreams through setting goals and making consistent progress. “The three core pieces to dream lab is encouragement, friendship and leadership,” Patton said. “It’s training these girls to build healthy relationships, know how to contribute and listen to each other.”

Leadership is just one of the skills Girls Rule hopes to instill in young girls. Patton said another is how to respond to difficulties.

“Are you going to respond from your greatness and grace with power,” she asked, “or are you going to completely fall apart and let it eat you up?” 

Girls Rule hopes to build programs nationwide and help more girls each year. 

For more information, visit girlsrulefoundation.org.

– Contact Alyssa Tufts at 480-898-6581 or atufts@evtrib.com.

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