Photo courtesy of Girls in the Know.
Sil and Eliza Reynolds, co-authors of Mothering and Daughtering, Keeping Your Bond Strong Through the Teen Years, will be in St. Louis the weekend of January 16-17.
Inspired by her wish to create a loving and lasting relationship with her own daughter, Carly as she entered her teenage years, Lori Lander launched Girls in the Know (GITK) in 2009 as a community-based program to facilitate communication and closeness between mothers and daughters. Since then, hundreds of area families have benefited from its mission to empower the mother-daughter bond from adolescence into adulthood.
SLM recently sat down with Lander and Executive Director Gina Marten to learn more about GITK and how the program is making its mark with local teens and their mothers.
What was your goal for Girls in the Know when you first started it in 2009?
LL: My drive was my passion for preparing my own daughter [for adolescence] as well as staying close to her. I knew that kids learn from each other and that they’re more open to learning and participating in groups. Our first program was at St. Luke’s Hospital in cooperation with the Spirit of Women program. I sent an email to everyone I knew and the room was packed!
Tell us a little bit about the program's curriculum.
GITK operates as a speaker series. Session one is about empowering your pre-teen daughter; in session two we strive to promote a healthy body image; session three is all about safety on the Internet, with cell phones, at home and away from home. In session four we discuss the birds and the bees. This is a fact-based session about puberty and where babies come from. Our professional speakers lead our audience in interactive discussions, games, and role-playing exercises with a different life topic each week. The month-long series can accommodate up to 20 mother-and-daughter pairs and meets from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Who are some of the series' presenters?
Our speakers are all licensed professionals. They’re counselors and therapists in private practice, nutritionists, doctors, and law enforcement officers from St. Louis City, Chesterfield, Creve Coeur, and the Clayton Police Departments.
What age group benefits most from the program?
It’s designed for 9 to 13-year-olds, mostly 5th and 6th graders, but we have had mature 4th graders and we’ve also worked with 7th graders. As pre-teens approach puberty, and are emotionally ready, this program reaches them at a critical time.
Do all of the programs look alike?
GM: We have been fortunate to be able to respond to differing needs in various communities. For example, Transition Camp is a one-week, half-day summer camp for girls transitioning from 5th to 6th grade. It’s an opportunity for parents to empower their daughters with the emotional and physical tools and behavior models that will help them meet the challenges of the middle school and tween/teen years. The camp provides a safe place for girls to discuss and explore the issues on their minds. This year we received funding from the Saint Louis Community Foundation to fund Transition Camp at Ferguson Middle School for 30 young ladies entering the 7th grade.
Gina, how did you get involved?
GM: My journey began as a participant in the four- week speaker series with my then 11-year-old daughter, Lauren. I fell in love with the mission and immediately got involved as a volunteer. In 2011, I was invited to be the keynote speaker for Passport to Power, the GITK annual event. Shortly afterwards I began assisting Lori with program management and in August 2012 I was invited to take the leadership role as director.
What other programs do you offer?
LL: We’re gearing up for our Knowledge is Power Empowerment weekend January 16 and 17. Our keynote speakers are New York-based authors Sil and Eliza Reynolds, co-authors of Mothering and Daughtering, Keeping Your Bond Strong Through the Teen Years. We are very excited! The weekend includes a workshop on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning and a book signing on Sunday night. The Reynolds’ provide concrete strategies to strengthening your relationship with your daughter. They speak from the heart. All of my girls and I are going!
You’ve created something truly unique and special.
LL: My theory is to jump in and do it. I wanted to stay close to my daughter as she entered her teen years and I found that other moms felt the same. What I originally planned from the beginning has remained our mission: to educate and empower mothers and their pre-teen daughters while encouraging positive decisions and healthy behaviors as girls mature into adulthood.
More info and registration for the January 16-17th weekend can be found on the website: www.girlsintheknow.org