Fundraiser kicks off year of helping girls shine

COAST CITIES — Girls Incorporated of San Diego County called on a little star power to inspire the donors and club members who attended their annual fundraiser at San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas on Oct. 29.
More than 100 adults and students attended and $6,200 was raised.
Girls Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empower girls 6 to 18 both physically and intellectually. The group offers programs that promote leadership and literacy, drug and pregnancy awareness, and athletic and martial prowess.
One of the biggest problems the group is currently tackling is the skyrocketing incidence of bullying in middle schools. Girls Inc.’s San Diego executive director, Lori Butler, said harassment via cell phone is common, and children will sometimes even be threatened with knives or have their hair cut by other children.
“The stories you hear are absolutely shocking,” Butler said. “We’re really going after that bullying because when you hear these tragedies happen with kids who are perhaps suicidal or commit some kind of retaliation, it’s because they were bullied.”
Two local luminaries were the featured role-model guests: San Diego 6 news anchor Heather Myers and plus size model Allison Trent. Myers explained that she had started out painfully shy and that becoming a news journalist was one of her hardest yet most rewarding accomplishments.
“I was embarrassingly horrible my first year on TV,” Myers said. “But I stuck it out. Yeah, it took 10 years to get to where I am now, but I’m so glad I never quit. It gives you so much confidence and it gives you passion, a dream and a sense of purpose.”
Trent spoke about her journey of body acceptance, rebounding from an adolescence of ridicule. Now she is paid to be beautiful as she is.
“My goal is to reach at least 100,000 girls personally to talk to them about body image and self-esteem issues,” Trent said. “That’s something I struggled with but learned to deal with over time, and I want to teach these girls that they can love themselves.”
This goal is probably well served by a partnership with Girls Inc. of San Diego, which two years ago left their fixed club in Vista and became an outreach-only group.
“What’s really cool is that we can go anywhere there’s a problem and bring a program that fits,” Butler said. “In the building, we could serve a hundred and something girls, whatever the fire marshal said. And now, by being outreach … we can serve thousands of girls.”
San Dieguito Academy joined up with the Girls Inc. cause this year. New Principal Michael Grove spurred the creation of a Girls Inc. club on campus. There are already 17 girls and staffers six involved.
“I got involved with Girls Inc. because I was concerned about some of the decisions I saw our young women making … the things they were willing to do because they didn’t feel confident in themselves,” Grove said. The San Dieguito club was a natural successor to the group he started at Carmel Valley Middle School where Grove said he saw a very positive impact.
More information on Girls Incorporated of San Diego County can be found at http://www.girlsincsd.org/ or by calling (760) 643-4067.

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