Nonprofit, city councilwomen work to empower middle school girls before they start classes

Conference teaches girls online safety, recognizing harassment, confidence

SAN ANTONIO – The nonprofit Girls Inc. and City Council members have teamed up to empower middle school girls before they start classes.

One in 4 girls will experience harassment, assault or sexual assault by age 17. It’s for reasons such as these that Girls Inc. has continued its annual back-to-school conference for middle school girls, which is now in its fourth year.

“(Girls would) be rude and ugly to each other instead of being nice and helpful and positive,” said Ivori Chapman, a seventh grader at Longfellow Middle School.

She knows all too well that being a girl in middle school is hard. Mia Cardenas, a seventh grader at Concordia Middle School, said she has also experienced bullying.

“They just want attention maybe or they are just trying to find friends,” Cardenas said.

Girls in sixth through eighth grade spent the day at the conference learning how to stay safe online, recognize harassment and be confident.

The nonprofit says 78% of high school girls report being unhappy with their bodies, which is why one of the big topics discussed at the conference was accepting yourself.

The girls each got to pick out a free outfit to help them with self-confidence. And for the first time since the city election this summer, all six councilwomen came together to speak to the girls.

District 4 Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia wants to encourage the girls, especially those from low-income areas, that they can be strong and successful.

“Many of us have the same backgrounds that they do. (We) come from low social economic incomes, and it's OK,” Rocha Garcia said. “We still worked hard and we were able to get where we are.”

Ivori said she knows this school year will be a good one.

“With the inspiration of all these girls, of what they can do, I believe that I can,” she said.

Bexar County Sheriff's Office officials were also at the conference to talk about online safety. They reminded students not to post their schedules, where they live or any personal information on their social media accounts in order to be protected against predators.

About the Authors: