A new research paper from the Girl Scout Research Institute suggests that girls are in a worse state than they were before the Great Recession. Released in February, the report outlined the trends in girls’ economic, physical, and emotional health, as well as participation in extracurricular activities and educational opportunities.
To further explore the state of girls, the Afterschool Alliance teamed up with Girl Scouts and Girls on the Run International for a webinar on February 23, digging into these emerging trends and what afterschool programs are doing to help girls. Moderated by Afterschool Alliance Director of Research Nikki Yamashiro, webinar attendees heard from Kamla Modi, Ph.D., senior researcher at the Girl Scout Research Institute; Suzanne Harper, STEM strategy lead at Girl Scouts of the USA; Audrey Kwik, director of STEM and Programs at Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas; and Heather Pressley, PhD, vice president of Programming at Girls on the Run International about the report and what programs are doing to support girls.
During the webinar, Kamla Modi highlighted the paper’s key findings, bringing attention to the disparities between the 41 percent of girls today that live in low-income families and their higher family income level peers. For example, girls in lower-income families are less likely to volunteer, participate in student council, and take part in sports than their higher-income peers. Kamla’s presentation highlighted the need to invest in afterschool and summer learning programs to ensure that all girls have the supports necessary to succeed.
Up next were speakers from girl-serving organizations committed to making sure that girls have opportunity to develop their full potential. These speakers shared hands-on programming tips and strategies to best support girls during the out-of-school hours.
Suzanne Harper spoke about the Girl Scouts’ new national STEM strategy that focuses on engaging girls in engineering, computer science, and outdoor STEM. Audrey Kwik followed by sharing what engaging and successful STEM programming looks like for Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas. She gave examples of their Doctor Doctor program, introducing girls to female doctors to learn about their career paths in medicine and what their jobs entail, and their Digital Movie Maker Camp, where girls worked with industry professionals to write and film their own movies.
The final speaker was Heather Pressley from Girls on the Run International, who spoke about how Girls on the Run engages girls through physical activity to build social and emotional learning skills. Heather shared a number of successful strategies, such as being intentional about forming relationships with students, having students set individualized goals that they can work to accomplish, and providing sufficient time and space for girls to process skills and goals alone, with staff, and with their peers.
The webinar concluded with a Q and A moderated by Nikki Yamashiro where questions addressed the retention of lower income girls in afterschool programs, troubling findings about girls’ mental health, and resources for programs that specifically target girls in girls-only and co-ed settings.
Missed the webinar? Not a problem! The webinar recording and accompanying resources are available online.