An Interview with Kasey and Kelly about GEN
Contributed by: Elena Carey and Elaina Mataya
Kasey has participated in ClubGEN and our 180 program. Kasey and her mom, Kelly, agreed to speak with us about their experiences with GEN. Thank you so much, Kasey and Kelly!
What is the best part of GEN?
The best part about group is we get to be ourselves around each other, and we know no one is going to go around the school to tell other people what we are saying in group. The leaders are so nice, and they really understand you. They always try to talk to you when something is going wrong, and they always make you feel happy.
What have you enjoyed working on in GEN?
I have enjoyed talking about friendships and bullying.
How do you think GEN helps girls?
GEN gives girls the confidence that they need to really have fun in school. Even if we are just meeting once a week, group gives us an opportunity to go and talk about what we have been through that week. Talking about this helps us be more focused and helps with having more fun.
Can you give an example of how you all talk about how your week has been?
We always start off group by sharing something negative, something positive, and something we are looking forward to.
What would you say to other girls that are thinking about joining group?
I would tell them that they should try it because it is really fun, and you have a lot of group leaders in there that you can talk to. You can talk to them about anything, and all of the leaders are really young, so they know how it is to be a middle schooler.
What is it like working with leaders in your group?
I like working with them because they are really fun and funny, and they always have really fun activities for us to do. We have this one activity called I am a GEN girl and so are you, which is so fun.
Have you ever struggled with something that the GEN group has helped you through?
Group is somewhere I can go where I can just have fun without focusing on the negative things happening in my life.
How has group changed or affected your life?
I have become more energetic, and my mom has noticed that I am happier. I have been able to talk about some of the things that are bringing me down; it is just a really nice place to talk about things.
What do you like most about Kasey being involved in The Girls Empowerment Network’s programs?
It is a constructive opportunity for her to express herself. Kasey is so strong, intelligent, and intuitive and some of those qualities and characteristics are not conducive to the classroom, P.E., or a lunchroom setting. In those settings Kasey and some other girls might not want to be themselves, because they might be worried about being pointed out for being too opinionated. These programs give Kasey more opportunities and freedom to be more proactive in society.
Why do you choose to enroll Kasey to GEN programs.
There are two obvious reasons for enrolling Kasey in this after school program, one is for financial reasons, because many after school programs requires finances that our family does not necessarily have. Another reason would be that I do not want Kasey to be alone at the house by herself, where she might only be on her phone or watching television.
What would your advice for other parents be for getting their kids involved with the Girls Empowerment Network?
My advice would be let them go and let them grow.
What would you say to someone who is providing a scholarship for one of the girls?
I would say to look at the faces of the children who come from struggle. They still are hopeful and excited for their futures. For the donors, I would say the smallest things can make the biggest differences in their lives.
How have you seen Kasey grow or change from being involved with the Girls Empowerment Network?
After being involved with the Girls Empowerment Network, the thing I see with Kasey is a growth in her confidence, and Kasey has also become much more comfortable with herself.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I think it is a blessing that these programs are available for our children.
Why do you think it is important for girls to have a safe place to go to talk about things going on in their lives?
Kasey: It is important because maybe the do not have anyone else to talk to or do not have any friends. They might have something on their mind, and they could need someone to talk to about it with.
Kelly: I was raised in an environment where you should not discuss some of the issues that might be going on in the family. I do think there are tendencies in many cultures that are still seeping into young girl’s minds that say, “Do not tell anyone about that,” but I think that anytime you can give a child a safe space to say something you will probably be saving families. It is much bigger than only being a safe place where girls can feel empowered, this program probably can be an option that saves children’s lives if they are empowered enough to communicate with adults leading the groups about what is going on in their families .
Would you like to contribute to 180 or ClubGEN to support empowering young girls like Kasey? Visit genaustin.org/donate to give.