Dessau Middle School clubGEN Students Create #loveyourselfie Valentine Sentiments for Every Student in new GENuine Beauty Campaign

A $57,000 grant from State Farm helps GENaustin bring GENuine Beauty to Dessau MS and 18 other Central Texas schools

AUSTIN, TEXAS – February 6, 2014— GENaustin – The Girls Empowerment Network launched its month-long GENuine Beauty program at 19 Central Texas elementary and middle schools in February, supported by a new grant of $57,985 from State Farm’s Youth Advisory Board (YAB). GENuine Beauty gathers girls in small, after-school groups called “clubGEN” to explore and discuss unrealistic images of women and girls in advertising, film and other media. Girls will create school-wide learning projects including a social media campaign (#loveyourselfie #GENuineBeautyIs) to counter negative messages and promote genuine beauty. GENaustin is one of 63 community organizations in the United States and Canada to receive a service-learning, youth-led grant State Farm’s YAB.

One of the first schools to create its campus and community project is Dessau Middle School, where girls in clubGEN and their families will host a #LoveYourSelfie photo booth and make valentines for every student in the school to share positive and inspirational messages about genuine beauty. Girls will make #LoveYourSelfie Valentines with help from friends and families on Mon., February 10, and distribute them to classmates on February 14.

“Students are exposed to more than 300 advertising messages a day, and a majority of them distort the body images of women and girls to the point of being false, because nobody really looks like that. GENuine beauty teaches girls to write their own story about what beauty is and to share their voices with their peers,” says Julia Cuba, MSW, executive director, GENaustin.

“With State Farm’s generous support, our clubGEN girls can take what they are learning and be a positive voice in their schools, their families and communities,” Cuba says. “We’re excited to see how students will reach out to others to show them what real beauty is.”

GENaustin’s Celeste King, a clubGEN coordinator for Dessau Middle School, has seen positive change in girls who learn to question the images they see around them. “When they understand that the images we see can make us feel worse and not better about ourselves, they get mad,” King explains. “Channeling that frustration into positive activities – whether writing a letter to magazine editors, making posters or creating their own campaigns – creates confidence.”

“The GENuine Beauty program will give girls the resources to bring positive messages about body image and self-esteem to their school campuses and their communities,” said Hector Garza, YAB board member.  “Service-learning is an excellent way to engage students outside of the traditional ‘chalk and blackboard’ model, and our board really liked this project’s core goals.”

“State Farm supports service-learning because it integrates service to the community into classroom curriculum using a hands-on approach to mastering subject material while fostering civic responsibility,” said Lindsay Southard, State Farm spokeswoman.

State Farm invites interested youth aged 17-20 to apply to become Youth Advisory Board members.  More information can be found atwww.statefarmyab.com.

 About State Farm®
State Farm and its affiliates are the largest provider of car insurance in the U.S. and is a leading insurer in Canada. In addition to providing auto insurance quotes, their 17,800 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve 81 million policies and accounts – more than 79 million auto, home, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is also available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 43 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com or in Canada http://www.statefarm.ca.

About GENaustin

Through after-school clubs, programs and community workshops for girls and parents, GENaustin — The Girls Empowerment Network supports and guides girls to make wise choices as they navigate the unique pressures of girlhood. Originally called The Ophelia Project, GENaustin (the Girls Empowerment Network) was created in 1996 by 12 concerned mothers raising adolescent girls in Austin, Texas. Now in its eighteenth year, GENaustin’s popular programs include ClubGEN at Central Texas elementary and middle schools; its annual, statewide conference We Are Girls; and day camps and workshops for girls, parents and student assemblies addressing media literacy, body image, relationships, social media use and social/emotional learning. In 2010 GENaustin created the 180 Program, a social/emotional learning and life skills course developed specifically for girls in the juvenile justice system or at risk of entering the system.  For more information about The Girls Empowerment Network, please visit www.genaustin.org.

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Vanessa Wright