Ruling Our Experiences is a girl empowerment group that is at the moment national. It focuses on helping girls build self-confidence, have healthy relationships, push past stereotypes. It also teaches them leadership and career skills to help them thrive once they leave high school.
What is even more beautiful about it is that fact that at Lakewood High School, it is available to the female students.
The 9th-grade counselor, Ms. Nina DeChant, helped bring this program to the school. It grew from a grant written by DeChant three years ago. It allowed her to be trained along with other facilitators and then formulate the pilot group. The girls were chosen from expressions of interest and being interviewed.
From there, a twenty-week program progresses. Ms. DeChant meets with the girls weekly during the school day and also forms a monthly activity. “My hope is that girls will learn their value. That they do not have to be defined by what society says a girl should be…i.e. thin, pretty, popular. So many girls are shutting down because they fear being made fun of or laughed at. I want girls to learn healthy ways to support each other vs. tearing each other down. I want the girls to find their voice and overcome their fears,” Dechant told.
The group is up and coming. The origins come from Dr. Lisa Hinkleman, a professor at Ohio State University. She formulated the group after interviewing girls about their life issues. The group is too young for there to be a true gauge of its impact. And is it only taught at the high school level currently. Ms. DeChant has been working to form a version in the middle schools. “It would be even more impactful if the program was being run by more than just one counselor in Lakewood,” she explained. To start possibly before it fully begins could change so much.
“But it is a start and I hope others will consider getting trained because, in essence, every girl would benefit from this program,” she added.