Mentor. Inspire. Empower.

I am a strong believer in mentoring, inspiring and empowering others, especially young girls. Research confirms the importance of having a quality mentoring relationship and shows it has a powerful positive effect on young people in personal, academic, and professional situations. Mentoring for me has always been first and foremost a relationship, I meet an extraordinary young woman and I think how can I help this person? How can I open doors for her and be supportive, encouraging and nourishing?

2013-girl-talk-logoIn 2013, I started a chapter of Girl Talk Inc in my town-Girl Talk Marlton.  Girl Talk Inc. is an international non-profit peer-to-peer mentoring program with a very simple premise: high school girls mentor middle school girls to help them deal with the issues they face during their formative early teenage years. Our mission is to help young teenage girls build self-esteem, develop leadership skills and recognize the value of community service. The girls develop confidence, leadership skills and compassion. They learn that they are not alone in the issues they face and that understanding, kindness and compassion can be the foundation for better relationships with others. This helps women become stronger leaders in the work place and more effective as parents. Since 2002, the Girl Talk Inc. organization has served more than 40,000 girls in 43 states and 7 countries. My group in Marlton, NJ has grown from 1 girl in 2013 to 107 young girls ages 10-18.

Why the need for female mentors? Statistics consistently demonstrate the alarming incidence of dangerous behaviors in middle school aged girls, as well as the positive impact of mentoring.

2009 data suggests that, of the middle school girl population in the U.S.:

9% are pregnant

22% never make it through high school (drop out)

27% have been or will be suicidal

34% have eating disorders

55% experiment with alcohol, drugs or tobacco

and, of those with low self-esteem, 25% resort to self-injurious behavior and 75% report engaging in activities such as disordered eating, cutting, bullying, smoking or drinking

 

The good news is that data also suggests that youth who are mentored are:

27% less likely to begin using alcohol

37% less likely to skip class

46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs

52% less likely to skip school, are more confident in their academic performance, and get along better with their families
7e277f9e37a1f037ff2ca5f826d533d5So, why NOT mentor, inspire and empower! Inspiration is all around us in everything we do and see. We need to mentor our young females to be inspired by the positive and not listen to the negative. And always empower them to aim high.

Young women often talk about the self-doubt that holds them back, that little negative voice inside their heads. We all have it, we all make mistakes, we are all human. Of course, sometimes even our role models get things wrong, or disappoint us, but this is also a useful reminder especially to girls that no one is perfect, and that anyone can survive both failure and error.

As women, we need to learn to build each other up. Women of different generations, colors and culture need to ensure that the progress we’ve made towards real equality continues.  We need to trust each other enough to share our power, knowledge, strength, talents and innovating solutions together. The women that do this are true role models and mentors and this is what I strive to be. They are the women who drive our motivation and imaginations, merely by their example. If we’re lucky enough, we count them as friends, and they are what we call our mentors.

My wish for you this week is to find a mentor in your life and become closer to them, learn from them and be empowered to inspire others.

http://thewishwall.org/desideri/mentor-inspire-empower/

~Mary Beth Iannarella

Girl Talk Marlton/The Wishwall Foundation

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 “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?- Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

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THE IMPORTANCE OF KINDNESS By Kailey Gaffney -Senior Leader of Girl Talk Marlton NJ Chapter

http://thewishwall.org/desideri/the-importance-of-kindness/

I have loved helping people and see kindness, in big ways and small, for as long as I can remember. My non-profit organization, Girl Talk in Marlton, NJ, helps me to do that for younger girls who need a helping hand through life.

My youth group has also helped me to do that for my community and people who I don’t even know. In the last 4 years of my life, I have traveled to places like Indianapolis, Atlanta, Pennsylvania, and more with these groups to meet new people and help others, whether it was physically, mentally, or emotionally.

I have made and served lunches for the homeless in Philadelphia, made breakfast for the Ronald McDonald house in Camden, I have volunteered my time to complete strangers, and now am a part of the best thing I could’ve asked to be a part of… the Wishwall. I love helping people, it is something I consider a hobby and I was given this love of helping others at such a young age. I started volunteering locally when I was 12, but now do it all over! It’s something I consider a huge part of me. Volunteering and helping people has made me who I am today.

random-acts-of-kindnessI’ve been told that my gift of helping others expands much farther than physically helping people, but emotionally as well. I am the oldest female teen in my youth group currently, and my youth group is something that I hold a place for in my heart. A lot of my friends in this youth group will always tell me that I’m an older sister figure to them. I love just sitting in the car for hours with my friends just talking, giving them advice and having them tell me how they feel. The look in their eyes when I tell them I’m there for them is a look like no other.

Being someone who didn’t get much help when going through a really rough period of life as a younger girl, I don’t know where or how I exactly got this gift to help people. One thing I know, for sure, is that I am so thankful for it. Making other people happy is what makes me the happiest. Knowing that I am the person people like to go to when they’re feeling down, whether it’s about a breakup with their boyfriend or girlfriend, a family issue, or stress from school and work, it makes me feel good. For some reason I just find so much interest in people confiding in me for help.

However, sometimes, being this way and doing what I do makes me sad.

As much as it makes me feel happy, I know that the people I love the most, are going through struggles I can’t fix for them. Yes, sometimes, just simply being there is enough. But, most of the time, I wish I can do more. I wish that the homeless families in Philadelphia didn’t lose their homes. I wish that my friends, who are such good people, didn’t have to go through the daily struggles they have to go through. I wish cancer didn’t exist and everyone was healthy. I know these things aren’t something I can control, however, it makes me think about it more.

So, what’s my wish? My wish is for healing. Emotional and physical healing. My wish is for people who are feeling down, to get the emotional help they need to get better. My wish is for people who are ill to be able to get the medicine and help from doctors they need to be cured. My wish is for people to heal others, in any way they can, like I have done for so many people over the years, and will continue to do with the rest of my life.

Stop hate, spread love, and do something good for someone today. A simple random act of kindness like holding the door for someone can make someone’s day.

Help others. It’s the best gift you could ever give, and the feeling you get from doing it is the best gift you could ever receive.

Kailey Gaffney of Girl Talk Marlton for the Womens Wishwall

www.girltalkmarlton.org

www.thewishwall.org

MY WISH FOR HOPE

http://thewishwall.org/desideri/my-wish-for-hope/

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Hopelessness: A dangerous suicide warning sign.

Hopelessness is a feeling that conditions will never improve, that there is no solution to a problem, and, for many, a feeling that dying by suicide would be better than living.

Most people who feel hopeless have depression, and untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide. September being known as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, I thought maybe I should speak on this touchy but very important topic. Speaking about it helps promote resources and awareness around the issues of suicide prevention, how you can help others and how to talk about suicide without increasing the risk of harm.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the third-leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds. Approximately 25 attempts are made for every completed teen suicide. Risk dramatically increases when teens have access to firearms at home, and nearly 60% of all suicides in the United States are committed with a gun. Note: Guns in your home should be unloaded, locked, and kept out of the reach of children and teens.

Unfortunately, many of us either know someone personally or have heard of someone that has committed suicide. No matter how they choose to go about ending their life, it is a very tragic event and those effected by the situation are left to wonder if they could have prevented it.

So let’s do our best to educate ourselves to know the warning signs when there is a problem. Last week I spoke of anxiety and how that can lead to depression, and while some levels of anxiety and depression are normal in teenage years there is a point where there are red flags that should not be ignored.

Depression and hopelessness in teens is sometimes difficult to spot because (let’s be honest) by nature teens are irritable, want to sleep a lot, and seem to be on an emotional roller coaster most of the time. Teen girls, especially, are great at hiding their struggles from their parents as not to alert them to what is really going on. With hormones surging and self-confidence so low, parents often misinterpret their behavior as typical emotional outburst and teenage drama. And yes, for the majority of teens it is just growing pains and normal behavior. But for those few who are struggling, there are the warning signs to be aware of and when to seek professional help.

Note major changes in behavior and attitude, changes in friend groups, drop in grades, not wanting to go to school, significant mood swings, increased hostility, appetite or sleep changes, increased negativity about self and others, life and the future; drug and alcohol use, reckless behavior, loss of interest in things, activities or people she used to enjoy, tearfulness, lethargy, difficulty concentrating, general withdrawal, decreased attention to appearance and hygiene. It is hard to really understand what is going on in the mind of someone who is in such a dark place but they say that people usually kill themselves to escape what they see to be an inescapable situation, not necessarily because they want to die.

If your teen is asking about suicide, talk to them. Let her know she can tell you anything and you won’t freak out (just breathe), and listen!  If you have reason to expect she may be suicidal, ask her directly and with compassion.  Even if she seems dramatic, take it seriously! Tell her you love her, you hear her, and you are committed to helping her through these feelings. Let her know that you believe she can get through this and that you are there for her- always. Consult your teens doctor to set up the best plan of treatment for her immediately. And if your teen won’t open up and speak to you, reach out to someone your child does trust and your child’s doctor to try to get her to open up.

There are also many teens who are self-cutting. While teens that self-cut may become suicidal at some point in their development, cutting does not indicate suicidality. Most teens who cut say that they do it to feel better and not to kill themselves. Through therapy, teens can learn to cope without harming themselves. If you become aware that your teen is self-cutting, get help immediately for your child. Let her know you love her and want to help her stay safe and she can work through this hard time and get through this.

Effective treatment can eliminate or substantially reduce feelings of hopelessness. Indeed, depression is highly treatable and the vast majority of people who receive treatment get better. If you feel hopeless and think that you may be suffering from depression or a similar disorder, you need to reach out for help – and you need to do so now.

And remember this: There is always hope. But you may not feel that hope until you receive effective treatment for any disorder that you might have.

Hope a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

See more at: http://nami.org/suicideawarenessmonth#sthash.Oy1ABAnR.dpuf

 

Mary Beth

Girl Talk Marlton

Women’s Wishwall Member