My tween refers to the years I was a tween as "The Olden Days." Of coursetweens, especially those nearing the teen years, think their parents just don't quite understand the challenges that they face today. Sad to say, they may be right in some sense. We did not have smart phones in junior high, Instagram and Facebook did not exist and we didn't take selfies. Enter Girl Talk.
Girl Talk's website explains that it 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" with a focus on self-esteem, leadership skills and community service. The group gives girls guidance from those who have literally been there. Who is your middle schoolers more likely to really listen to - a parent, or a cool high school girl?
That's probably why Girl Talk is now in 34 states and 7 countries. Haley Kilpatrick created the organization in 2002 when she was a high schooler who wanted to inspire high schoolers to be good role models and help middle school girls. Kilpatrick has since authored the helpful book The Drama Years: Real Girls Talk About Surviving Middle School -- Bullies, Brands, Body Image and More and GirlTalk has since reached 40,000 girls.
But was does mentoring do for these tween girls? Studies of girls who have had a mentor show that the mentored tweens are:
- 27% less likely to begin using alcohol
- 37% less likely to skip class
- 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
The weekly meetings involve socializing and problem solving on a variety of topics that range from social media to friend drama and all middle school topics in between. (See what a typical meeting looks like here.)
The middle school girls aren't the only ones benefiting from the program. The high school leaders say that they also get a lot out of their participation as mentors.
Leader Ansley Edwards said, "Girl Talk has helped me realize that there is so much I really can do. Girl Talk has given me the tools to negotiate difficult situations, but more than that it has inspired me to try to make a difference every single day even in the smallest of ways."
"Because of Girl Talk, I get to meet new people and socialize with others. It makes me feel great to be a part of something important. I am a Girl Talk Leader because I get to help others and inspire others to live happier lives," said leader Kendall Desin.
Even better, GirlTalk is free. There are no dues or membership fees.
Click here to see if there's a Girl Talk chapter near you.
Can't find one? You can start your own. Start by clicking here.
If you would like to get emails of Tween Us posts, please type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.