Girl Power at school

POSTED: 02/15/13 1:34 PM
Girl Power
Students with their certificates after they conducted the Girl Power program of the Aids Foundation. 

GREAT BAY – St Maarten Aids Foundation, in collaboration with Sector Public Health, delivered the Girl Power program to 73 first- and second-former girls at the Sundial school this week. It was the fourth workshop for this school year, the first having been delivered to 16 out-of-school girls in the Youth Development Program back in November.

The Aids Foundation is slated to reach out to 8 more schools by April. “There is a school scheduled for every week from now until the end of March, keeping us quite busy,” Community Projects Coordinator of the Aids Foundation, Kimberley Meijers said.

The three-day workshop incorporates images, songs and poems from popular culture to hone in on messages that instill values of self-esteem, establish peer norms, and teach practical knowledge about HIV and STIs, as well as usable negotiation skills to stay out of risky situations.

“We have been going out to schools since 2006, and are always overwhelmed by the positive response from the girls,” Ria Uiterloo, the Girl Power Coordinator and Board Member of the Aids Foundation said. “They have so many questions and are eager to take in all this information. It really brings home the need to continue and expand on delivering this type of workshops in a safe structured environment for our youth,” she continued.

“The program relies on volunteer facilitators, whose level of commitment and desire to steer the girls in a positive direction is really to be commended”, Uiterloo said. “It takes the cooperation of several entities to bring such a program together. The Ministry of Health, for example, occasionally provides goody bags of hair styling tools to thank the girls for their participation. It can be quite an undertaking. Two weeks ago 65 girls at St. Dominic High School participated in the program; last week 10 girls at Learning Unlimited took part in the program; Next week Monday till Wednesday 78 girls of the Milton Peters College will receive the workshop. Thereafter we will have close to 300 girls from the other High schools on St. Maarten,” she added.

The girls at St. Dominic’s were enthused about the program. “I had low self-esteem and an eating disorder because of personal problems. Girl Power helps you build up your confidence,” a second-former said. Another girl said, “It helps to prepare me for what may come in the future.”

The long-awaited parallel program for the boys is currently under development in collaboration with Emory University in the US. St. Maarten Aids Foundation hopes to pilot it in the later part of this year.



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