SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Girls Inc. is a national organization that has a local branch in San Diego County with the goal of empowering girls to be the leaders of tomorrow.
They partner with schools and have programs for students that take them outside of the classroom with events and lessons that help girls navigate today’s world.
News 8's Keristen Holmes served as the Mistress of Ceremonies at their annual fundraiser Thursday night but before the program, she talked with a few girls who had just finished the Girls Inc. Summer Program.
The girls said their world is a better place because of Girls Inc.
Adelina Ramirez is a 14-year-old freshman at San Diego High School. She says watching the racial turmoil unfold across the country was hard to see.
"I just remember one day watching the news and breaking down thinking, she's not going to have a father role," said Ramirez. "She has all these people standing behind her saying, 'Hey, we fought for justice for her dad, but you still don't have him here.' It doesn't replace the fact that she still won't have him standing next to her. And she was what? Six? I was thinking, 'Who's going to explain to her what happened?'"
However, Ramirez says Girls Inc. gave her a place to talk thru it.
"I don't think I felt myself open up to a group of people I've known for such a short amount of time," said Ramirez.
Ramirez is not alone. Priscilla Korha, a first-generation American with roots in Sierra Leone said Girls Inc. found a way to engage the students with fun while still effectively handling the serious stuff.
"It was the best four weeks ever. Oh my God. We laughed all the time," said Korha. "We danced. We tell jokes. It could go from being super funny to discussing topics like racism, sexism and misogyny."
According to the National Center for Health Research, 13% of 12 to 17-year-olds report social media usage leading to depression. 32% report anxiety and mental illness is a concern related to online usage.
Alexa Tegelan is a 16-year-old at Morris High School who says those numbers don’t surprise her.
As she reflected on her time at Girls Inc., she said candidly,
“I...honestly...didn't have a good self-esteem for myself,"
Tegelan said Girls Inc. equipped her and her friends with the tools they needed to navigate social media and their self-esteem healthily.
"I would compare myself, but I would also think, maybe I could use this girl's confidence and find good qualities I could find in myself."
Girls Inc. organizers say they use long-lasting mentoring relationships and evidence-based programming in a pro-girl environment to help girls grow up healthy, educated, and independent.
"Throughout the (school) year, I can already feel myself overcoming challenges that Girls Inc. walked me through," said Ramirez. "They helped with my confidence, how to ask for help without feeling ashamed."
Ramirez shared it’s important that groups like Girls Inc. exist.
“To make girls feel welcome in this world because with all of the things going on in this world, we all need a little bit of encouragement," Ramirez said.
Priscilla concludes by simply stating, "Girls Inc. is about bettering women so we can better the world."
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