Though most of our Pittsburgh mentors and girls have completed Strong Women, Strong Girls for the program year—the college women returning home for the summer to be with their families, the girls preparing for their summer activities—all have left their communities with tangible, sustainable, and quite impressive contributions as a result of the service projects they completed this semester.
The SWSG learning model followed by our mentors and girls comprises a skill-building curriculum (traditionally completed in the fall), which teaches important social-emotional skills such as cultural sensitivity and critical thinking through biography-reading, “knowledge swap” discussions and fun, interactive activities. In their second semester of the program year (typically in the spring), girls and mentors use the new skills they’ve learned to work together to implement a community service project…and what phenomenal projects our strong women and girls have completed this semester!
Several girls’ site groups chose the “Creating a Newspaper” service project, in which the girls and mentors worked together to write, design, illustrate, and publish a newspaper for distribution at their schools or community sites. In creating these newspapers, girls learned about courageous women reporters such as Christiane Amanpour; learned about the value of humor in storytelling as they created their own comic strips; and learned about different methods of gathering information, such as interviewing subjects. The girls even got to interview one another and learn about each other’s backgrounds and life experiences. When the girls proudly distributed these newspapers on which they worked so dutifully, other community members and teachers also had the opportunity to learn a little bit more about SWSG.
Another popular project was the “Supporting a Cause” service project, piloted across 9 sites this semester, which gave girls and their mentors the opportunity to make natural personal care products, advertise and sell the products, and donate the money to a community cause of their choice. Girls learned about women entrepreneurs who, despite many obstacles in their lives, managed to persevere and turn their passions into their careers; learned about the health benefits of all-natural products and environmentally-friendly consumption; learned business skills such as advertising and using elevator speeches; and learned about various causes in their communities which they had the option of supporting with donations. At the end, the girls reveled in the pride of donating all of their hard-earned profits to a cause which they had chosen themselves at the beginning of the semester. These causes included the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, an animal shelter, the Homeless Children’s Education Fund, and more.
Though each of the aforementioned service projects varied in focus area, several factors remained constant across the board: girls had ownership over the causes they chose and the products they made; they learned the value of working as a team to accomplish a larger goal; and they gained an increased sense of civic responsibility as well as a sense of empowerment in knowing that they can have a real impact in their community. Girls and mentors, we are so proud of you!