Girls Lead is a school-based program started in 1999 by the Women’s Resource Center and which continues to thrive after more than two decades. This program is aimed at helping middle and high school girls with untapped leadership potential. The participants are nominated by their guidance counselors and principals and develop evidence-based life skills that bolster them and help them become strong leaders in their school, community and beyond.
Adolescent girls are faced with a variety of challenges in their everyday lives. In 2015, Women’s Resource Center undertook an analysis of research on the potential negative outcomes common among adolescent girls: Bullying, drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, school dropout, suicide, abusive relationships and eating disorders. The literature review revealed four common protective factors: communication skills, conflict resolution, decision-making, and problem solving. These skills are also life skills that foster leadership ability.
During the pandemic, Girls Lead is needed more than ever. Life skills that help girls to become more assertive in their relationships while considering multiple viewpoints, managing conflict, expressing themselves with confidence and making good decisions are a priority during times of high stress. As students re-enter school after 18 months of isolation, Girls Lead partners with school professionals to provide readiness development so that participants can be open to learning and leading.
The Girls Lead curriculum has evolved over the years to represent the current reality for adolescents. While focusing on the four skills, the program has also implemented elements of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Additionally, it incorporates today’s social media dilemmas and challenges for youth in guided skits and scenarios.
Both the middle and high school programs consist of 15 sessions plus a Girls Lead Conference. The curriculum, implemented by skilled human service professionals contracted by WRC, culminates in a Leadership project to positively impact the school or community.
During the annual Girls Lead conference, the participants have the opportunity to meet the other school cohorts in the program and to present their Leadership project to the entire Girls Lead community. Over the past years, the conference has been successfully run both virtually and in person.
Girls Lead was fully adapted for the virtual school environment last year. This year, the program will be run virtually and in person, depending on the school.
Girls Lead is a unique program in that it is both evidence based and experiential, enabling participants to experience and incorporate the four life skills into their everyday choices, developing leaders now and into the future.
The program is funded through the generosity of our donors and sponsors and is free to schools. For more information, please contact Kristen Burd at Kristen@womensrc.org.
Academy Park Alternative School
Academy Park High School
Darby Township Middle School
Fugett Middle School
Interboro High School
Norwood Middle School
Peirce Middle School
Phoenixville Area Middle School
Radnor Middle School
Springfield Township High School
Springfield Township Middle School
Stetson Middle School
Tinicum Middle School
Toby Farms Middle School
“Girls Lead has helped me grow as a human and as a leader all while having fun.”
Women Speak, our television interview show, spoke with a Girls Lead participant, her mother and the program facilitator at Radnor Middle School in Delaware County. Hear directly from this young woman how Girls Lead made a difference in her life!