On March 5 Carpinteria’s Girls Inc. chapter finished their inaugural Winter Basketball Program, introducing its new Basketball Enrichment concept. “The girls made tremendous improvements over the eight weeks, for many, it was their first time playing basketball or participating in a sports program,” said Teen Program Manager Kenya Rodriguez. The clinic was attended by 14 girls, ages 9 to 14.

Coaches Michelle Alpizar and Laura Flores helped with the program. Both are Carpinteria High School athletes. The duo, who participated in the curriculum at the club since joining as young girls, were recently awarded $25,000 in scholarships for their overall service to the community. 

“Three critical goals drive our programming: to help girls achieve healthy lives, succeed academically and acquire the life skills needed to prepare them for adulthood,” said Rodriguez, who has worked at Girls Inc. for five years.

Founded in Carpinteria in 1971 as a summer camp, the organization places an emphasis on physical activity. In Girls Inc.’s recent study, “Stronger, Smarter, Bolder: Girls take the Lead,” it was noted that girls ages 6 through 12 are less likely than boys to participate in team sports. “Our goal is to have girls develop movement and athletic skills, cooperative and competitive spirit, and healthy habits so that they can experience the benefits and excitement of taking positive risks that bolster their self-confidence and personal growth,” said Rodriguez.

The organization’s Project BOLD program adheres to this philosophy where girls learn skills and strategies to lead safer lives in their homes, relationships, communities and online. In the Be BOLD program, girls ages 6 to 8 build skills and personal power for dealing with hurtful or dangerous situations. Girls also learn about resources they can access for greater safety. The Action for Safety aspect is for girls ages 9 to 11. It helps build negotiation, assertiveness and self-defense skills. It also helps initiate open and honest discussions to enhance girls’ understanding about interpersonal violence, lessening the fear and isolation of girls experiencing violence. Also, the Living Safe & Strong segment for girls ages 12 to 14 helps to continue discussions of gender violence issues, and reinforces and provides additional safety strategies and self-defense skills for teen girls. 

Another one of Girls Inc.’s programs called Mind + Body promotes the whole health of girls ages 6 to 18. It focuses on four critical content areas: physical activity, body image, nutrition and stress management. The program is based on the belief that every girl can find a type of physical activity that she enjoys and girls of all shapes and sizes have the right to feel good about their bodies. Additionally, girls who participate, identify a strategy for healthy eating that works for them. Emphasis is also given to teaching girls to understand that stress is a normal part of life, and that handling stress in a healthy way is a key factor in having a strong body and mind.

“We know that when their access to sports participation is limited, girls miss the chance to develop skills that will help them succeed and habits that can keep them healthy throughout their lives,” said Rodriquez. 

Girls Inc.’s campus is currently closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But programs and activities continue to be provided for girls through a variety of online platforms like Zoom, Facebook Live and Instagram Live. The Teen Program director recently held an online workshop on Zoom for teens girls on healthy stress management during this time. To learn more, visit girlsinc-carp.org.

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