Lunch for the Girls 2017: Fatuma’s remarks

My name is Fatuma Mberwa and I am eighteen years old. I attend the University of Nebraska Omaha. I am majoring in Public Health. I received both the Buffet and the Girls Inc. local scholarship.  It is because of Girls Inc. I’m standing here today as a Muslim girl in college. Girls Inc. has had a significant impact on my life as a Muslim Somali Bantu. It gave me and my sisters a safe place to go and learn and have fun at the same time. Girls Inc. has given me the confidence and courage to stand up for my rights. As a girl in my culture, going to college is frowned upon because we are supposed to get married by the time we are eighteen. It is a big deal to branch out and put your education before marriage and family. I’m able to do this because I know I have my Girls Inc. family to hold my hand throughout this journey.

Because of Girls Inc. I was able to see myself as teacher, an artist or a doctor and at the same time keep my religion and cultural norms. For example, when I needed a hijab swimsuit to cover up as I learned how to swim, Girls Inc. was there for me.

As I embark in my college journey, I know that I have the skills and courage to change the world and educate my Muslim community because I’m a Girls Inc. girl. Thank you for supporting Girls Inc. and fueling the fire for girls like me.

Lunch for the Girls 2017: Taylor’s remarks

My name is Taylor Byrd. I’m 16-years-old and I’ve been attending Girls Inc. for 9 years.  Girls Inc. is a home away from home for me and many girls. At Girls Inc. I’ve been a peer teacher for B.E.L (Board of Educated Ladies) where we teach other youth in our community about sex education. I’m in success prep, a job prep skill building program where I practice skills from the program at a summer job and earn a paycheck working at Girls Inc. I’m a Sparks Positivity near-peer leader where I help teach the younger girls learn about compassion and kindness. And this will be my 5th year in the Eureka! STEM program. This past summer I finished my second externship at Avirture, a software company in Sarpy county. During the 4-week externship I worked on bugs and errors and used visual studio code to fix the bugs. I love coding and computer programming. I got to sit in meetings to discuss the day’s progress. I got a glimpse of what I want to study when I go to college.

This year I also stepped out of my comfort zone and joined the fitness club with Mr. Joe.  We all know that sports and fitness is important for our health but not all of us like to do it or enjoy doing it.  For me, this was important because on my grandmother’s side of the family they have a history of diabetes and I’ve seen what that looks like. I know that staying healthy is the only way I will avoid diabetes.  In our fitness club we learn that nutrition and exercise go together. Mr. Joe makes sure to add healthy cooking using items we had in our garden at Girls Inc. and items we would have at home. He showed us how to make vegetarian spaghetti and limit frying our foods. I know it’s hard to eat healthy but being at Girls Inc. I’m reminded each day why it’s important. I’m grateful that we have Girls Inc. in our community to keep us healthy and smart.

 

Lunch for the Girls: Destinee’s remarks

Destinee

My name is Destinee Juber and Girls Inc. helped me reach my potential.

I went to Girls Inc in 2011 and 2012, during my days in foster care, and at the time I was a completely different person. I was a mess of a girl that was constantly making terrible choices. I’ve struggled with PTSD and depression for the better part of my life. However, back then it controlled me; I let those words define me as a person. I didn’t know anything else, until the staff at Girls Inc. showed me compassion and wanted to help me.

Each day after school I was routinely the first girl to enter the building for many months. Sometimes the hopelessness was overpowering and my heavy heart brought my shoulders down with it. Other days I’d strut down the hallway with undeniable confidence. I was given a special job to do, in effort to help me grow. I grew each and every time I watered the garden, trimmed the oregano, and fed the worms. I delicately took care of that garden and kept a certain fascination with the worms. At the time they were one of my few friends. You’ll find that my heart was longing for an opportunity, for a chance at life. But I chose to go about it all wrong.

One day I decided I needed more and I was tough, I was an adult. I’d show them. I defiantly walked out of the building and down the devilishly crooked street. I can hardly believe that I, myself would just walk out in the dark, in Omaha, but I had to prove I was grown. I wandered foolishly as the darkness of night stalked my every move. 3 hours later a group of teenagers took me in and had the police pick me up. I was scared and angry that they would betray me like that, but they saved me from being kidnapped or making yet another idiotic decision.

With shame I was hauled back to my foster home and continued to act defiantly because I wasn’t going down without a fight. After things died down and I had received my punishment, I was sure I’d never re-enter that brick building. But these gracious and amazing people looked past my foolishness and decided I had potential and they stuck with me. I was given a second chance I have yet to forget. It was so powerful I only wish I could express in words how grateful I am. It was magical for that lost 12-year-old girl.

After a few months of gardening and time with my amazing and ever-faithful mentor, I was changing. My mentor taught me so many skills, from all things engineering, problem solving, and good habits. I excelled in school, proudly challenged myself in my STEM groups at Girls Inc, and felt as if I truly belonged. Believe me, I was 12, I had my days, but they always stood by my side. The doors they opened were questionable for me. I was confused as to why they wanted to help me and not just push me away. The truth is they really do care, because if they didn’t I can assure you they had many opportunities to prove me wrong and they chose to stand by me. Mental health was one barrier that kept me from reaching my potential and they embraced it. If I had a hard day, they gave me a reason to push through it.

It’s a great feeling to know you will always have someone in your corner! To this day I keep in contact and let me just say this world does not deserve to have such wonderful people all in one place.

I am Destinee and I am strong, smart, and bold!

Regan’s remarks from Lunch for the Girls 2017

Regan

My name is Regan Fulton, I’ve been a Girls Inc. Member since age five. Yesterday was my birthday. I’m ten years old.  Being a Girls Inc. girl means I get to participate in a lot of different programs and clubs. I’m in soccer, robotics, sparks and my favorite – the coding club. Last year, Ms. Beth was signing up girls for this club. She started with ten-year-olds for her first session and I was only nine. I really wanted to be a part of the club and I knew that I was smart and good enough to be with those older girls. I find coding very fun because you get to use all four subjects of science technology, engineering, and Math.  During the coding club we programed Sphero’s and ran them through different obstacle courses, coded bracelets with our names on them for Valentine’s Day, programmed an EV3 Mindstorm robot during Lego League Club and played scratch games. I really like playing coding games. My goal is to keep practicing and getting better in coding because when I go to college I want to be a teacher. I want to teach people what coding is and why it’s important for our future.  So, if anyone in this crowd today would like to come and help us continue to learn how to code please e-mail Ms. Emily (emwaja@girlsincomaha.org) because we are looking to grow our coding team. Without teachers we can’t grow. So please, come code with us.

Thank you for believing in our coding future.

Kendra’s Remarks from Lunch for the Girls 2017

My name is Kendra Trimble and I’m fifteen years old. I’ve been a Girls Inc. member for nine years. With the expansion of the North Omaha Katherine Fletcher center, we are very lucky to have an elevated track, fitness center and a yoga space. So, when Mr. Joe started his first fitness club last year, I was one of the first group of teens to join the club. When I joined the club, my goal was to lose 10lbs. Little did I know that I was going to learn about patience, how to set personal goals, learn different ways to relieve stress and enjoy working out with Mr. Joe. As I mentioned earlier my goal was to lose ten pounds; I’m happy to say that I lost fifteen pounds.  It took me half a year to do this, and that’s a life time for a teen. I definitely exercised patience and on top of that I learned how to eat healthy and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I learned that I can accomplish a lot with patience and determination.

On top of fitness club, I’m a member of the Eureka! program and B.E.L. (Board of Educated Ladies)-our sex education peer teaching program. When I was younger I was a part of Operation SMART and Techbridge both STEM programs. At Girls Inc., staff have helped me with my resume building, interviewing skills, homework help and public speaking. I’ve become better in science, more comfortable in my math classes and most important they have helped me with my communicating skills. As you can see, Girls Inc. is molding me to be the next travelling nurse. That’s my career goal.

Thank you for being in my corner.

Mr. Joe’s Fitness Club

Inaugural Fitness Club from September 9th – November 15thimg_9233

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.

img_9295The 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

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“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.

-Mr. Joe