The program was held each Thursday for seven weeks in April and May after school at the BGC at Jefferson Elementary School. Fourteen girls in grades three to six participated. The program sessions included fashions of the past, healthy cooking and snacking, improving body image and self-esteem, pilates, manners and etiquette, and personal hygiene.
“The program was created to give young girls a better understanding of how to carry themselves in a lady-like manner,” said Danielle Goska, the director of school sites for the Boys & Girls Club of Portage County. Goska said the local BGC got the idea for the program from the BGC in Oshkosh.
“We see many children today slouching at the table, not using their manners, battling obesity, not knowing their self-worth and we wanted to teach these young ladies about this and what their true self-worth is and how to be a young lady,” she said.
Goska said girls are taught topics such as manners and self-esteem in school, but G.A.B. helps them practice their skills.
“They go over it in school but through this program we wanted to teach them a deeper meaning of what is all means to be a lady in today’s day and age,” she said.
The topics of discussion were led by local women, including Jasia Steinmetz, a food and nutrition professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP)’s School of Health Promotion and Human Development; and Kathy Graham, Studio B and Seventh Heaven Salon, Plover.
The topics were chosen by a group of BGC Board members, the program coordinator and Goska who sat down and discussed what areas they wanted to go over with the girls, said Goska.
“Some of the girls’ favorite sessions were making the homemade pasta, going to the hair salon and doing Pilates,” Goska said.
Steinmetz, who led the pasta-making session with her mobile cooking units, said the girls enjoyed learning new cooking techniques.
“I want kids to know that cooking isn’t difficult to do,” she said. “It’s a skill that has to be learned, but it’s also fun.”
Steinmetz, who also encourages dietetics students from UWSP to do field work with the BCG, said the G.A.B. program is important because it engages the girls in healthy, educational activities and exposes them to a variety of adult leaders.
“All of the girls have such potential and were willing to try new things,” she said. “The group helps build confidence and skills, as well as exposure to positive relationships with adults.”
Steinmetz said she plans on working with future BGC programs and expanding food education for children.
“A lot of good things can happen around food,” she said.
G.A.B ended Wednesday, May 22, with a luncheon and tea party celebration at Michelle’s Restaurant, Stevens Point. Goska said the BGC will hold G.A.B next spring, as well.
For information about program involvement, contact Goska at 715-295-0040. For more information about the BGC, visit www.bgclubpc.org.