FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Physical exercise is one of many components of the Fort Wayne Girlz Rock program. Anastasia Bragg is a 13-year old student who has been involved with Girlz Rock for two years.
“If my mom wouldn’t have put me in this then my attitude would still be bad,” said Bragg.
Girlz Rock helps Allen County girls like Bragg develop positive self-images by participating in self-improvement workshops and leadership activities.
“Hearing people’s stories and how far their attitude got them inspired me to change my attitude because I was going down the wrong path and it was horrible,” said Bragg.
Like other girls in the program Bragg talks to motivational speakers, learns about budgeting time and money and proper nutrition. She also participates in Zumba workouts.
Former East Allen County Schools Family Specialist Denita Washington founded Girlz Rock in 2011. It’s funded through grants and donations.
“Part of what we do is self-development,” said Washington.”We also do financial wellness and another piece we do is mental health. We really are big on trying to get the mindset changed on how the girls see themselves and what we’ve learned over the years is that a lot of our girls are emotionally not well.”
To promote emotional and academic growth, Washington enlists the help of many businesses and organizations and educators like Emily Oberlin, the Director of The New Tech Academy at Wayne High School.
“We work on mission boards,” said Oberlin. “The girls cut out pictures from magazines, words and phrases that describe who they are what they believe in. What they want to represent and words that keep them motivated.”
Student Ty’arria Booker enjoyed the activity.
“I would have never thought about doing this,” said Booker. “I want to be a pediatrician or a teacher. I haven’t decided yet but I like putting positive words on a poster.” “So one of the things we talked about is how easy it is for women to look in the mirror and find everything that is wrong with them,” said Oberlin., “We talk to the girls about putting the poster somewhere where they’d see it everyday to remind them of their goals, dreams or vision and everything that is good about them.”
Professional photographer Chanel Love learned to follow her dreams through the Girlz Rock program.
“I was my biggest enemy,” said Love. “I would look down on myself but Ms. Washington always gave me a compliment and she always told me I am a leader.”
Love now runs her own photography business and serves as a volunteer and mentor with the program.
“I use the phrase every moment that you’re capturing is a moment that has a touch of love. So I may be taking a picture and it’s only five seconds but with that I am capturing this moment that someone’s going to remember forever.”
Girlz Rock meets once every two to three months and is open to girls in sixth through twelfth grades in Allen County. For more information on the program go to the Fort Wayne Girls Rock Facebook page or call 260-705-7243.