By Laura LeBeau
Loyola University Chicago’s Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority traveled to the suburb of Rolling Meadows over the weekend to reach out to the 7th grader girls of Carl Sandburg Jr. High School in a leadership program.
GIRLS (Girls Inspire Real Leadership and Service) Academy is a program targeted toward young women to promote leadership, friendship, respect, and service in their daily lives.
“Middle school years are a vulnerable time in a girl’s life so the program was designed to help girls and give them the support and skills to deal with emotional and physical issues,” said Janet Meinheit, founder of the program.
The two-day retreat held at the junior high school targeted many aspects of a 13-year-olds life including body image, bullying, conflicting values, and friendships.
“GIRLS Academy is not just a learning experience for the middle school girls–all of the collegians are impacted by how much is shared and learned, and I know I always feel empowered and excited after the weekend,” said Emily Fetcho, GIRLS Academy facilitator.
Seventeen young women from Kappa Kappa Gamma were selected to represent the sorority and facilitate small group sessions, games, and support for the students.
The second year in a row participating in the GIRLS Academy, sorority members enjoyed spending time in a completely new environment.
“It was so amazing to see this small group of girls open up in their willingness to go out of their comfort zones. They had great responses and made new friends,” said Anne Marie Bonaguro, 22, a senior psychology major.
The program concluded with a graduation ceremony for the girls where parents were encouraged to attend and hear about the experiences over the weekend.
“Feedback from parents and school administration proves that we can make a difference in just one weekend,” Meinheit said.