Diane Peltz – Contributing Writer
Mountain View Intermediate School (MVI) was host to the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education, Raleigh last week for a “Girl Talk” event. Dr. Amy Pullium, DHSc, NPH, MCHES and Jean Workman, Regional Health Educator were the guest speakers.
“Girl Talk” was just that, talk about girls, and female growth and development. A total of 157 girls and their parents were in attendance – about 40 more than were registered. Yvonne Robinson, Student Service Specialist at MVI said, “it was a great problem to have and very motivating to know that so many of our parents wanted to attend.”
A presentation picture slide show helped the girls understand how their bodies were changing. The speakers talked about what to expect and when to expect it. They presented questions to the girls and tried to dispel any misconceptions about puberty. Hands-on activities, and candid discussions helped moms and daughters explore a range of topics from the workings of the female reproductive system to the menstrual cycle and feminine hygiene products.
The group enjoyed a light meal which included pizza. Each girl was given a supply bag filled with information, hygiene items and a few treats. They filled these bags by using donated surplus items, supplies given by the health department and free sample items. In each bag was a booklet, coupons, stickers, feminine supplies, sparkly ruler, a comb, shampoo, soap, a toothbrush, note pad, and three Dum Dum pops.
They were able to let the girls choose from over 70 new cosmetic cases. It was suggested that they use these to pack and keep supplies with them at school. Teachers, churches and community members donated the brightly colored cases. They had them spread out on a long table and the girls were eager to look them over. At the end of the program, the girls scrambled excitedly to get the bag of their choice. Robinson recalls, “One mother told me that after the program, her daughter went home and filled her case with 10 hygiene items so that she would be well prepared at school.”
They gave out tickets for about 25 small door prizes. One of the larger door prizes was a gift card donated by the local Great Clips. Other prizes were donated items and small clearance items that Robinson picked up around town.
At the end of the event evaluations were given out to both students and parents. Of the 124 responses with 1-5 ratings, 5 being the best, 116 scored a 5, seven were a 4 and one was a 3 because of the close quarters due to the unexpectedly large crowd. Some of the comments from the parents were, “fantastic, thanks,” “keep doing what you are doing. It helps the young ladies become comfortable with themselves and the change,” “thank you so much. As a grandmother, it has been hard to get her to talk about this,” “I hope you do this every year, I have two more girls,” “very informative and helpful. It’s great to have an open conversation with the hands-on activities,” “this was very beneficial and I appreciate the opportunity as it had been a while and moms don’t always know the answers.”
Abigail Garcia, a fifth grader at MVI says, “we learned about our body, I enjoyed it and I am now prepared.” Capri Morley also a fifth grader said “Girl Talk was really fun and a good experience to learn what to expect.” Kaylee Toneges explains, “Girl Talk was very interesting with lots of information and it also answered a lot of personal and embarrassing questions I was wondering about. It was a-lot of fun and I also liked the games that included all the young girls.”
“Mountain View is pleased to partner with parents by helping them address the issue of puberty,” said Robinson. “We subscribe to the adage that ‘It takes a village’ and we take seriously our role as a part of that village. Having been in health education since 1984, I have noticed that typically our boys feel proud when they begin to grow and change physically and emotionally. Our girls, on the other hand, tend to feel embarrassed and ashamed. The less we talk to them about puberty, the more they feel that it is something bad.
“In order to get off to a good start in today’s world, our girls need to be knowledgeable about – and prepared for – puberty. A well-prepared, confident girl is more likely to make healthy decisions and to seek information and advice when needed. We want girls to know that puberty is normal and ‘do-able’ and that being female is a wonderful thing. We want them to feel comfortable asking parents for information and help and to know that we at school, are always a back up and safety net.”