By Hannah Maine

The Fresh Start Women’s Foundation provides education, resources and support for women to positively transform their lives and strengthen our community. Today we hear from Lakiesha Townsel the Personal Program Coordinator who manages the Girls Thriving and Jump Start programs.

Q: What is the Girls Thriving program at Fresh Start Women’s Foundation?

A: Girls Thriving is a holistic program for girls ranging from 13-17 years old, aimed at increasing a teenage girl’s ability to make safe, healthy choices, and to thrive academically and socially. 

Q: What are the Girls Thriving meetings like?

A: We hold a mini-camp during spring break and a mini camp during fall break where we cover, healthy relationships, goal setting, dream boarding, peer advocacy, living in an online world, health and fitness, and more. In addition to that, in the past, we have held a mother-daughter event, a college-bound event, and other special events that are held on Saturdays, like vision boarding.

Q: What are some of the topics discussed in the Girls Thriving program?

A: Peer advocacy, budgeting, relationship building, health and fitness, safety in an online world, leadership skills, and more.

Q: Who leads the classes?

A: We have trained and experienced staff as well as community partners who lead classes. We also have had guest speakers who are experienced in specific topics in the past.

Q: What does a typical class look like?

A: Mini-camps include big groups discussions in the morning then break out into small groups later on. All of the classes and camps are workshops so the girls and staff are interacting. 

Q: How can girls benefit from the work done in the Girls Thriving classes?

A: Girls Thriving offers an educational and interactive approach to allow for the exploration and learning of more effective social and emotional coping strategies for girls in middle and high school through all-day personal development sessions. Our mini-camp includes personal development classes, which are highly interactive and offer a safe place for girls to learn effective social and emotional coping strategies. Even better, teenagers gain a supportive community of others like them, where they can grow and share together. 

Q: In your experience at the Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, how have you seen this program affect girls?

A: The program has allowed girls to have a safe outlet to meet other girls who can support them by living positively, by being extraordinary and having other girls who are being extraordinary too. 

Q: What advice would you give yourself when you were 13-17?

A: Have a positive group of girlfriends. Be with the girls who have goals they want to exceed, who want to own their own business, travel, complete secondary school. Be around girls who have vision.