ENGLEWOOD — Nearly 300 Englewood girls sang, danced and opened up presents together Monday.
Girl Space, an afterschool program offered by Girls Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, held its first Christmas party at Friendship Center in suburban Country Club Hills.
Girls from Sherman, Hendricks, Parker, Henderson, Basil, Dulles, and Libby came out. CEO Nancy Wright said the party was put on to “celebrate" them.
“We’re very fortunate to be in these communities and serve these girls,” she said. “It was really about celebrating them and bringing joy into their lives.”
Originally they were going to keep the party small and invite 30-35 scouts, Wright said. But so many schools wanted to get involved they decided to expand the event.
The program has three components: financial literacy, education and healthy living. They focus on each area for 12 weeks of programming.
On Monday, the girls wrote letters to veterans and seniors living in nursing homes. They played games, danced and sang Christmas songs. Each girl left with one gift and a backpack.
The dancing was the highlight of the day for most of the girls.
“I really liked that part,” said 10-year-old Esmeralda Garcia, who attends Libby Elementary School.
She said she likes when they have parties because “it brings everyone together.”
Shamya Hayes, 8, said the presents were the best part. She got a bracelet.
A’Niyah Jones, an eight-year-old from Sherman, liked writing the letters. She said it’ll be a “nice thing” for the veterans and seniors to get in the mail.
Alisa Lockhart, assistant vice president of community outreach initiatives, said that the Girl Space program is an asset in the girls’ lives.
“We really believe we’re making an impact with these girls,” she said. “Not to mention we have facilitators who are mentors, so every day they get to develop relationships with these particular mentors.”
She said the girls form close relationships with their mentors and feel safe enough to share secrets.
Lockhart would like to see the program grow.
“It impacts girls and we would like to expand our territory because it’s so dynamic,” she said. “We already reach so many girls who may not have an opportunity to participate in Girl Scouts so if we can expand our territory to reach more girls in underserved communities I think it would be so rewarding.”
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