The idea behind Fitness Club was to create a little extra motivation to get moving. I did not take any body composition measurements like weight, % body fat, height, VO2 max, etc. My only expectation was that the girls showed up on a regular basis and had a good attitude. The class was only supposed to last for 8 weeks; however, the girls kept coming and I extended the club for two extra weeks. Fitness club met almost every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the months of September through November.
For me, my goals were to make the participants more comfortable in a weight room setting. I think everyone has had an experience where they have felt intimidated or uncomfortable working out, especially in an unfamiliar weight room. I taught the basic etiquette for the workout equipment and cardio equipment. Almost the entire first session was spent just on technique and teaching the core movements that would be used in Fitness Club. After this, the workouts started coming.
The workouts were difficult, but the girls persevered and finished every time in their own way. When the girls needed some extra motivation, Ms. Anna and Ms. Adaisha were able to help out and lead a workout or two. After most of the workouts, I would prompt the girls with a question to write in their journals. We were better at writing in our journals some weeks more than others, but here are some of their entries below:
“The most challenging thing in fitness club today was burpees x50. It was hard and challenging because I never did them before and it was 50 of them to do. After a while, I got used to them though and did all 50.” Kendra – 14
“The thing I like about fitness club is that we get to work out and work with abs and get in good shape.” Fitness club member – 12
“My goal for fitness club was trying to work out and eat healthy.” Natalia – 14
“In the future, a way to stay fit everyday, I will jog everyday or go to a fitness club and eat healthy.” Imani – 14
“My goal was when I started was that I am supposed to stay in shape.” Malika – 12
“The hardest part of fitness club is you still have to keep going even if it hurts. I though the exercises were really hard because it hurts a lot but you can’t stop doing it. The only thing you have to do is try harder. Fitness club helps me use up my time better as well.” Nevaeh – 12
“Working out has helped me feel better about myself and lets me know that I can do what I put my mind to, without others telling me so.”
“Beside my physical appearance, it helped me more with sleeping and getting rest. My motivation and confidence is higher. Also, it has helped with stress and I’m doing better in school.” Kendra – 14
“My favorite workout is going on the bikes and getting my legs pumping so they can be strong.” Fitness Club member – 12
“Working out helped my sleeping because I will go to bed right after because I’m relaxed and I fall asleep quicker.” Natalia – 14
“Working out has helped me feel better about myself and lets me know that I can do what I put my mind to, without others telling me so.” LaKiya – 14
“My favorite is working out on the bikes because I can burn calories.” Virginia – 13
As an instructor of the club, I learned a lot in the process of leading this club. One of my goals for the next Fitness Club is to start each session with an open discussion on maintaining a healthy lifestyle after they graduate from high school and Girls Inc. Now, I will lead a short session of Fitness Club for the Kindergarteners – 3rd Graders. This will be a fun and exciting new challenge. Fitness Club for the teenagers will start back up again after the New Year.
My name is Queen Freeman and I’m 12 years old. I’ve been a Girls Inc. member for 5 years. Being a Girls Inc. girl is very enjoyable. You get to make friends who are not in the same school as you and you get to sign up for a lot of different programs and opportunities. I have had a chance to participate in very many programs such as Techbridge, Art club, B.U.M.P (Bike Union mentoring Project) and much more. This year my most favorite was the book club. During book club we were able to read: Sins of the Father by Theolonious Legend and Teenage Blues and Teenage Blues 3 both by various authors. Being in a book club I’ve been able to work with my friends in book discussions and share how the stories impact us and how we are able to relate to these stories. Sometimes you go in thinking this book is going to be boring and not make sense, but you start reading and you gradually find yourself so focused and attentive that you want to read the book in a day. Because of book club I now have better grammar and I’m more likely to pick up a book and read for fun. It is amazing how a book can capture your imagination and take you on a journey while at home or at Girls Inc. Everyone should join a book club.
My name is Teriana and I’m 9 years old. I have been a part of Girls Inc. for 3 years. In those 3 years, I’ve been able to attend a lot of fun field trips to the planetarium, baseball games, swimming and shows at the Rose Theater. This year I’m very excited to continue to be a part of a book club. We call it Read and Feed because we get snacks as we read. This summer we read, The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch. The main reason I enjoy book club, is because it is quiet and very relaxing. I get to practice how to pronounce new words that I’ve never seen and learn how to express myself using those words. If you have never joined a book club do it!! OR join our Read and Feed at Girls Inc. You. Will. Love. it.
Read the Journal Excerpts from the Girls Inc. 2014 trip to St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans, Little Rock, and Branson. It may take a minute to load – it’s a big document (it was a BIG trip!).
As part of the TechBridge program, Girls Inc teens have been making compost. Girls and staff have been collecting and preparing organic materials (egg shells, coffee grounds, fruit peels), and they haven’t been doing it alone: they’ve had a little help from some worms.
Once the worms have finish eating their “worm food,” Ms. Jen will send a fertilized soil sample to a soil testing company to analyze its mineral content.
In the spring, girls will use the compost to fertilize plants in the Girls Inc garden. They will also grow plants in unfertilized soil, and in soil fertlized with manure. This way, girls and staff can observe compare the effect that different fertilizers have on plant growth.
Check back to see our finished compost!
Well over a year ago I had expressed an interest in the mentoring program at Girls’ Inc., but this was prior to Megan Oberymeyer’s wonderful coordination of the group. So I must admit I was a little hesitant to get involved when Meghan contacted me last fall–until I had a very warm and open conversation with her. I attended an orientation of sorts with her last October and she did her magic and matched me with a wonderful 14-year-old girl, Amina Abdullahi (it only took me a few weeks to pronounce this correctly), who came to the United States with her family from Kenya when she was 7 years old.
She is in the 8th grade at Bryan Middle School and has 6 brothers and sisters. She loves art and tacos. This is basically the information I had before meeting her in late November. Meghan set a meeting up with Amina, her, and myself. I had never been to the South annex of Girls’ Inc. before so I was actually a bit nervous about the whole thing but Amina is such a warm and friendly young lady that it went “swimmingly”.
The first weekend in December the local “Hot Shops” artist coop has an open house; so remembering Amina likes art, I asked her to go with a friend and me. It was interesting to see what some of the current local trends are with some of the artists and I think Amina enjoyed it.
In an effort to keep communication going, I would call her a couple of times a week to see how she was doing. She talked a lot about her art classes in school. They were studying Georgia O’Keefe and she was very interested in the various aspects involved in the flowers. I was impressed with her art teacher’s assignment for the students to draw all the different parts of the flowers, before drawing the entire thing. Amina enjoyed this too.
After the holiday, Amina and I went down to Lauritzen Gardens to see the poinsettia display, indoor train display, and have lunch. I took her a book on Georgia O’Keefe that had been my mom’s. At the same time, she presented me with one of her beautiful drawings of a large flower—much like the O’Keefe style. I was so terribly touched. So much so, that I told her I am working on having it framed. I learned something I should have known all along, and that is that Amina is Muslim and does not eat pork (Duh!). Somehow this fact slipped my mind so I was newly informed when she turned down a ham sandwich. (My ignorance at some of the cultural differences amazes me.)
After seeing the movie, “Les Miserables,” I thought it would be a great movie to take Amina to so we had coffee/cupcakes at Jones St. and went to the movie at Aksarben. Halfway through the movie, I was worried that a 14 year old might be a little bored with it, but at the end she said she loved it. A few weeks later, Amina, her sister, and I went to the opening weekend at Film Streams of “Chasing Ice,” a documentary about global warming and the frightening meltdown of the glaciers. Both of us were blown away by the photography, and I was interested in exposing her to the global warming issues. I was pleased to learn they have been talking about it in their science classes.
We both enjoyed going to the Mentor/Mentee dinner at Olive Garden, compliments of Girls’ Inc. I picked Amina up early and brought her to my house (not far from Olive Garden) to hang out a little bit and yak. I had also gotten an artist’s toolbox and filled it with some odds and ends that an artist friend of mine had suggested because Amina had talked about doing some drawing at Girls’ Inc. and I would like to encourage her to continue to embrace her talent.
She was so thrilled. Also, I wanted her to have the chance to meet my two dogs, which are such an important part of our family but boy, did I learn another cultural difference! Amina can’t touch dogs because they view them a lot like pigs—it is not totally clear to me, but I respected this and kept the dogs outside.
All in all, I have enjoyed getting to know Amina better. I have two children entering adulthood so at 58 years of age, I was not sure what I could really offer but I have quickly learned how much we both can teach one another.
Amina is a very outgoing, talkative, at ease young lady. I have so little knowledge or understanding of her culture but I try and be an encouraging ear and support. We talk a lot about her family, her interests, which are so different than mine—not in a bad way, just different. (I had no idea there were entire Bollywood and Nollywood movies and actors.)
Amina has begun calling me regularly to share things from school (she made honor roll!, and is participating in an art show competition at school). She even called me after a weekend I was out of town just to say she had missed me, which about blew me away. I look forward to the new experiences ahead.
On May 27, 2012 I left Girls Inc. not really knowing what I was getting into. I knew it was an expedition which was 2 days. I also knew we were staying at a church. That’s all I really knew. But as I continued, I learned and saw some pretty cool things. – Deja
While I was on the Expedition we visited places I would never have imagined or stepped foot in. Like for instance, Kent Bellows Studio. – Ladayshianae
That day we first went to Kent Bellows Art Gallery and painted. We met Anne who is an arts administrator. – Deja
We each got weird shaped pieces and we got to paint whatever we wanted. Once we were finished, we pieced it together and it made the shape of a heart. After we cleaned up we had lunch at Leavenworth Park. Unfortunately, we missed our bus, so we had to catch another bus. We got dropped off in Midtown Crossing and walked to a store called Inclosed. Inclosed is a store that is in the wedding invitation business. We met Leslie, Candace, and Meagan. Leslie is the owner of Inclosed. Candace is the wedding event planner. And Meagan owns her own bouquet shop called PrincessLazortron. She fixes bouquets for brides and bridesmaids. Next we got to create a party invitation on a posterboard using magazines. – Elijahiana
We learned what it takes to get to the top. And when we get to the top, we learned not to back down. – Ladayshianae
Then we took a short distance walk to Film Streams. Film Streams is a non-profit organization that shows special movies like classics and documentaries. We met Rachel Jacobson who is the director/founder of Film Streams. Film Streams only has 2 theaters. We got the chance to examine the 2 theatres and the projection rooms. – Elijahiana
We learned about how Film Streams started and what they play there. – Maggie
Film Streams is an awesome place. – Ladayshianae
We got to go to Red Mango. Red Mango sells frozen yogurt and you could add any topping you want. Once done with the treat, we took the bus back to Midtown Crossing and walked to the Farmer’s Market. Our challenge was we had to buy organic produce and we had to try to find one thing we never tried before, by using only $20. – Elijahiana
We were given $20 and had to decide as a group how to spend it wisely on organic food and use those foods to create our dinner. We had rice and beans provided so we had to make something to go with it. It was fun and new for me because I have never been to one of these before. Our dinner was garlic rice and beans with a zesty salsa and fruit salad which were all things from the market. – Deja
We all collected fruits and vegetables, and we decided to try kohlrabi. Kohnlrabi is like a green potato-like thing. – Elijahiana
The most fun was picking out the food that no one had tried which was kohlrabi. We fried some, then boiled some in water, spices, and honey. It was good both ways. When we were buying the food everyone wanted to be in charge so for me that was the hardest. – Ladayshianae
We had to have a few people navigate the bus times and where to go by bus numbers while others went to go cook. Once dinner was ready, we all ate. – Elijahiana
We went to the City Hall. Once we walked off the bus, we were assigned a challenge. We had a scavanger hunt. We met the Mayor and got a baseball card with his autograph. Then we met other employees who told us about their challenges. – Elijahiana
We talked to Buster Brown, the Mayor, and Diane Battiano. They told us about how to be succesful in their positions. – Maggie
We learned about the government system and about things like deeds and city planning. We explored City Hall. We also learned about a program called ReEnergize. – Deja
We met Eric, who showed us than an LED light buld saves more money than a regular light bulb and lasts longer. – Elijahiana
Next, we went to see the Trugs on Leavenworth. – Maggie
We went to Leavenworth and 27th and talked to businesses and people about the Trugs, a bench-like thing they put there to promote the Leavenworth neighborhood and celebrate their community. – Deja
We talked to another Anne, who was a part of Emerging Terrain. She explained to us how the Trugs made communities look better. We had to ask other businesses about what they thought of the Trugs. Some people said it was good for the community. Others said it was ruining business and traffic can’t see them. – Elijahiana
We made shirts and posters telling what we did. When we were done, we went to the downtown slides and Old Market to survey people. We asked people what they would change about Omaha. Some said parking, more police officers, less violence. Other people said there is really nothing to change….We headed back to the bus stop and went to [Omaha Home for Boys]. We had pizza for lunch and set up everything for graduation. Once graduation started, we presented and told people about what we did. A special presentation was put on — we each told about where we went. We nearly made the goal for points and we got pins. We all enjoyed the camp! – Elijahiana
I felt that the most challenging thing was to carry those packs or book bags which were heavy. But as far as that, I really enjoyed myself and would love to come back. – Deja
During the Expedition, I learned very important things. I had to learn not to care what other people think because as we were walking through Omaha, we were required to haul around these big hiking bags. people asked us [about them] but we just told them they were for our Urban Expedition. ..One value I got from this trip was to not be so independent. Like I learned that it’s OK to sometimes ask for help. And I had to realize that I was with a group and couldn’t do my own thing….Through the whole Expedition, I gained a lot. Now that I went, I have new tools to help me through my journey. So I thank everyone who helped put this together for letting me be able to be a part of this. Thank you. – Ladayshianae
The girls watched this video about Johan Mowry being bullied: http://goo.gl/F2lvI. Then they wrote advice and letters to Jonah.
I can understand how you feel. I get bullied, too. I know someone who cut. You shouldn’t have to go that route. You could really hurt yourself. It’s OK. You can make it through. You should try writing poems. That’s what I do. It helps me empty out my feelings. It’s like I am a new person. I many not know you Jonah but I have a feeling you can find something else other than cutting. You put your life on the line when you cut. Do me a favor and try not to cut again. – Ashley
Don’t even bother with those people. They are haters and what you are is a very special person. You are yourself. They probably feel bad about themselves. They haven’t seen the inside of the book, they just looked ta the cover. You are wonderfully made in your own way. – Salera
As your friend, please don’t listen to mean people. You should not let them get to you. Tell a teacher or talk to a friend. You are stronger than that so JUST BE YOURSELF.
It is OK. Believe it or not you are not the only one that gets bullied. It’s not fair for the victim of the problem. They probably bully you and other people to make them feel better about themselves.
Sometimes I get bullied about my hair, my skin, my clothes, but then I met some friends and they stood up for me. I stood up for them. And yes! I did kinda bully that’s only because they hurt me so what I say is it’s “Back fire time!” but my friends would say “NO! It’s not worth it.” I took their advice and whne I stopped, they stopped.
If I were Jonah’s friend I would always encourage him to never give up no matter how many things that go on in his life. He should never give up on life. I would help him through his problems. I would start a club for people just like Jonah and other people. I would tell him they’re jealous and the only reason they do that is because something’s wrong with them. I would tell him: the song called “You are beautiful.” – Ziann
I would say just ignore them and tell an adult. – Jeriona
It will be OK. You are who you are. Don’t care what other people say. You are fine the way you are. You can just ignore them and come play with me.
I know you’ve been put down and bullied a lot, but don’t listen. Just a few minutes ago I got called ugly. I know I’m beautiful and I believe that. They’re just jealous and hatin’. One day those bullies will be punished. Just think that. Wish you wonderful things. – Anneliese
Just live your life and there are people who care about you. What you think of you is what matters. – Teondra
What I would say to Jonah if I were his friend – i would say I’m your friend. Ignore people. be strong. You’re a good person. Don’t let people get to you. – Jennile
Just remember we’ll all be here for you. – Arian
Don’t worry about what they say. It’s not true. I will always be your friend. You did not do anything wrong to them. They are just jealous of your greatness. Just don’t worry. They just don’t know how hurt you feel. – Tyana
If I was your friend I would have your back and be by your side no matter what. Brush it off. – Alaunys
I know what you’re going through. I get bullied every day. Sometimes the best you can do is ignore it. If people call you stupid try saying, “If I’m so dumb let me see your report card.” People will freeze if you say that. If a girl picks on you say, “Stop flirting.” If it’s a boy say, “Stop hatin’.”…I know you can do it. Go Jonah! – Janeshja
I’ll be here with you all the way. You won’t hurt or have to cry any more. I know there are very violent people out there. Don’t let people get to you. Either they like you or they are jealous of you. I know you may want to hurt yourself…I wish you all I have. – Amari
My mentee is Amya, a very sweet 10-year-old girl. I would have to say what makes our relationship so easy is the fact that Amya attends Girls Inc. so we are able to see each other daily. Also, it helps that Amya and I live 10 minutes apart from one another, which allows us to get together more often. Another thing that enables us to have a close relationship is that Amya has a cell phone so we communicate daily and set up plans with one another via text or with a phone call. Amya has a younger sister, Asia which can be a tricky situation but whenever her sister has accompanied us it has always been Amya’s choice. I make it a point to spend time with Amya as much as I can and when the time and situation allows her little sister Asia comes with us.
Amya and I have gone to the movies. We went to Transformers 3, which was her choice J. We’ve gone to a relative’s birthday party; we’ve gone shopping at the Westroads or Oak View Mall. We’ve played Bocci Ball; gone to church together; gone to my mom’s house to hang out; listened to music; and had a water gun fight. We’ve gone out to eat at Red Robins, Burger King, Jimmy Johns, etc… One of the places we like to go is Sonics because we can sit in the car and just chat.
One thing I like about Amya is that even though at times she is an old soul she can still be a kid and play with younger children and let herself have fun. She is an awesome big sister – always looking out for her little sister Asia. We don’t have to be doing anything just hanging out and that is just fine with her. Amya just enjoys spending time with me even if that means sitting outside together talking, or watching her shows on Disney Channel like So Random, Good Luck Charlie, My Babysitter’s a Vampire or Shake it Up!
Amya is a such a sweet, thoughtful, loving, kind, funny, caring, young lady and I am blessed to have her as my mentee.
I am so glad that I became a Pathfinders Mentor – it has added such wonderful experiences and memories to my life. – Stephanie Lewis
Girls Inc. staff member and Pathfinders Mentor
Girls Inc. members Treasure Pascal, Makay Weliyo, and D’Anshanique Gregory are each recipients of a $2,500 Lucile Miller Wright Scholarship from Girls Inc. national.
The Scholars Program was created in 1992 when Lucile Miller Wright, a long-time supporter of Girls Incorporated, made a bequest from her estate to fund scholarships expressly for young women members.
Since 1993, Girls Inc. national has awarded over $2.58 million in scholarships to over 400 high school women. Multiple scholarships ($2,500 and $15,000) are awarded each year and may be applied to tuition and expenses at any accredited 2- or 4-year college or university.
The purpose of the Scholars Program is to make post-secondary education more accessible by offsetting the financial costs. The goal is to inspire members to succeed in school and to consider a broad range of career possibilities
Using a sheet of cardstock, a takeout box, popsicle sticks, 2 skewers, 3 washers, Dixie cups, and a small glass bowl, the girls made their very own gumball machines in Techbridge. This activity was listed as a “favorite” of many of the girls. They loved using the tools – rulers, scissors, tape, X-acto knives, glue guns, and snips to put all of the pieces together and create a machine that actually works.
Check out our Girls Inc. of Omaha facebook page to see an album of photos from this activity.