Women and girls from all over the city attended Girls Inc. of Greater Madison’s Celebration of International Women’s Day at Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center on Tuesday night.
“In 2014, this program had a hundred girls when we became a Dane County community partner, now there are over 1,000 girls,” Goodman Community Center Chief of Development Officer Michelle Green said.
In 2019, the 810 girls from 26 sites from elementary to high school participated in over 12,000 hours of Girls Inc. programming. Girls Inc. programming focuses on math and science education, pregnancy and drug abuse prevention, media literacy, economic literacy, adolescent health, violence prevention, and sports participation. About a hundred of those girls attended the Girls Inc. reception.
Girls Inc. participants Josie Shaw and Camille Dorman said they both became involved with the organization after spending time at the Goodman Community Center. At the beginning of sixth grade, Shaw said they started doing hair and skincare units before International Women’s Day last year.
“I like the whole class. It’s my favorite part of the day because I can just go there and I don’t have to be overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do every class but it makes me feel welcome,” Shaw said.
She said this year the group worked on more murals and motivational pieces for International Women’s Day. Dorman said this year the group is doing a lot of activities outside of school.
Shaw spoke about the time she and her mom painted portraits of each other at an event. Dorman painted portraits of her friends. She said it was cool to see all the different colors and different hair in the portraits. Both girls wore their Girls Inc. shirts for the night.
“I feel like it means to me just recognizing all the women that mean a lot to me and getting to know the people I haven’t met before through this,” Dorman said.
Speakers for the night focused on inspiring girls to continue dreaming. Kesha Bozeman shared a message on behalf of the organization’s champion sponsor, American Family Insurance / Dream Bank.
“Dreams are not to be confused with wishes. Wishes don’t take effort or hustle but dreams do,” she said.
Bozeman asked adults to remain in girls’ corners.
Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth Healing Circles Manager Jodie Geddes encouraged the girls not to give up on those dreams while UW-Madison Athletics Director of Inclusion and Engagement Sheridan Blanford told them not to underestimate their potential.
“For me, a lifelong goal to continue to be a dreamer,” Geddes said.
Blanford outlined four principles in her presentation; don’t be afraid to be the first, serve and lead by example, open up doors for others, and to keep hope alive. She also gave shoutouts to the women who inspired her in her life.
“Every woman has the ability to be influential. It just takes attention and a little intentional effort,” she said.