It all started with Positively Me, the Junior League of Greenwich’s esteem-building program for 3rd grade girls from all parts of Town.
The program, which is offered free of charge, encourages girls to be confident, make good decisions, be assertive and express themselves, struck a chord, and every year the sessions fill quickly and well in advance.
The Junior League subsequently expanded the concept with Positively More aimed toward 6th grade girls. The 11 and 12-year olds can choose between five one-day sessions, all offered on Saturdays (almost all sessions have filled).
Positively More aims to give girls the tools to avoid questionable situations, lessen the consequences of potential conflicts and identify lessons learned by those challenges.
One of the keys to the success of Positively More has been the use of Teen Ambassadors. The Jr League invited teens from Greenwich High School and independent schools to serve as mentors for the 6th graders.
The Jr League received the following letters from two of the girls who participated in the first session.
“My mom made me come,” I heard a girl say as she entered the Junior League building on Putnam Avenue. She was just one of the 36 girls that arrived on the morning of November 1st for the first session of Positively More. The project is initiated by The Junior League of Greenwich and is in collaboration with United Way, YWCA, O’Malley Wellness, and the Speech Improvement Company.
That morning, 11 and 12 year old girls from 10 middle schools, began their first session of Positively More, not knowing what to expect. Many of them came because their mothers insisted, others because they thought it would be fun. Mixed emotions filled the atmosphere as they anxiously awaited the Positively More activities.
Positively More aims to accomplish three main goals during each session: to give girls the tools to avoid questionable situations, to lessen the consequences of potential conflicts, and to identify lessons learned by those challenges. Volunteers from the Junior League began with ice breakers allowing the girls to become comfortable with one another. Participants then divided into groups to a variety of workshops, covering the topics of friendships, digital reputations, self-esteem, the female body, and morality. The workshops, moderated by top professionals in the fields of teen counseling, youth services, social media and prevention/education, consisted of hands on activities and discussions. Accompanying each group were “Teen Ambassadors,” from Greenwich High School and Convent of the Sacred Heart. At later sessions teens from Greenwich Academy and King would also volunteer.
Overall, the girls had a wonderful time. One participant proudly exclaimed, “This is something I’m definitely going to remember for the rest of my life!”
As much as the girls had fun that day, Positively More’s Teen Ambassadors felt that they got as much out of it as the girls did.
“I had a wonderful time at the Positively More session with the young girls and had a great deal of fun. Not only was it a pleasure working with the girls, but each of the high school ambassadors, although from different high schools, came together. It was wonderful hearing the individual girl’s thoughts. One activity that particularly touched the teens was the toothpaste activity. The girls were divided into groups and challenged to empty all the toothpaste from its tube. But the following task is what got the girls thinking, they were asked to put the toothpaste back in! It was quite a difficult task and at the end there was definitely less toothpaste in the tube than there was in the beginning. The activity represented friendship: a good friendship is filled with love (toothpaste) but once a friend starts gossiping and lying (the toothpaste comes out) it is much harder to restore the friendship to get it back to where it was (the tube completely filled).
The girls gained valuable insight of the true meaning and value of friendship. I even got a nice note from a girl complimenting my dancing skills! The girls left the Positively More program empowered and ready to deal with the challenges coming ahead.” – Isabella Pehrson, Greenwich High School
“Being a teen ambassador and working with the 11 and 12 year old girls was exciting! I think I learned as much from the girls as they did from me. What they are learning is so valuable and the way in which their learning is relatable and fun. It makes me wish I had a program like Positively More when I was their age. The fact that I didn’t and struggled with my self-esteem and friendships in middle school, only helps motivate me to be my best self for these girls. I can’t wait for the rest of the sessions. – Daisy Flores, Convent of the Sacred Heart