When the Center for Community Partnerships invited Case Western Reserve University departments and groups seeking charitable funding to apply for its new Community Outreach Program grants, they received dozens of applications. Ten campus affiliates were selected to receive $1,000 each for the 2008-2009 academic year to continue their outreach work in the areas of PreK-12, senior citizens, health, social service, community and economic development, and lifelong learning.
Each of the winning groups will be featured in an ongoing series. Learn more about the SMART Girls:
Throughout the academic year, a group of "SMART Girls" ages 7-12 meet on a regular basis at the King-Kennedy Boys & Girls Club in Cleveland. The goal: To help them feel more comfortable about their changing bodies by giving them useful information in a fun, stress-free environment.
"This is the age where they are starting to physically develop. Hygiene, sexual health and overall health issues become even more important. This is a good age group to target as far as health concerns, "said Monique James, a second-year student at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine who is co-director of the SMART Girls club. The group is mentored by several medical school students.
Among the topics discussed are obesity, which research shows is increasingly linked to puberty, as well as peer pressure and self-esteem issues. "This age group is receptive to this kind program, so this is a great time to establish positive self esteem and role models."
James said the grant money will be used to purchase poster boards, journals, school supplies, healthy snacks and hygiene kits. "Each week, we do a session and we have them write or draw something about the topic. Then they present to the rest of the group," she said.
She added that about half of the girls are new to the program, while the other half has returned from the previous year; most of them live in the area surrounding the King-Kennedy Boys & Girls Club. "They know the program and they look forward to it. They get the other girls excited about it."
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