CAMDEN – In 2018, girls attending the Camden-Rockport Middle School formed a group to unite their voices and empower each other, and others.
Jessie Odgren is a sixth-grade language arts teacher at CRMS. She said the group is about girls and they have already had a host of projects for their first year.
“It all happened quickly,” she said. “We kind of had some plans about what we wanted to do and then people started reaching out to us to help them with their projects, like women’s health month, and then the library asked if we would like to do a book display, so we’ve been super busy throughout the year.”
The group created the display by drawing and writing book reviews for books that portrayed girls in a good way or were written by powerful women.
Odgren said the group is open to all grades.
“Right now we only have sixth and seventh graders,” she said. “We’re hoping to get some eighth graders involved and we’re hoping to get more kids joining, in general. Right now we have 14 students involved.”
Odgren said it’s a safe place for girls.
“It’s a safe place for girls to come and talk about anything,” she said. “They can talk about what they’re feeling or facing. They’re also building relationships within our group. In the beginning, they weren’t really pals and hung out, but that changes. It’s a really cool way for them to support each other and learn to use their voices. And they are developing their own voices.”
Katie Urey is the co-facilitator of the Girls Coalition. She is a parent and facilitates a workshop with seventh grade girls at CRMS around media and self-esteem.
“I partnered with Jessie to bring her program to the whole school,” she said. “I believe in this and I think it is fabulous for the girls.”
Their mission is to create an active coalition of girls, empowered to use their voices to promote equality for all.
In February the Girls Coalition worked with CRMS nurse Gretchen Kuhn to help promote Women’s Heart Health Month. They worked to inform the rest of the school about issues that are critical to women’s health.
Also in February was Galentine’s Day. On February 13, Galentine’s Day, a nonofficial holiday is celebrated as a day for women celebrating women.
On that day the Girls Coalition put signs in the bathrooms that encouraged girls to be themselves and lift each other up.
March was Women’s History Month and the Girls Coalition took the event to CRMS by creating a bulletin board outside the library with quotes by accomplished women.
On April 11, the group went to the Girls Rock Convention in Waterville. The Girls Rock Convention was created and hosted by a group of high schoolers throughout the state of Maine called the GAB girls and was focused on teaching ways to improve the equality of girls and women in the state.
The group is growing and continues to create ways for girls and women to connect, support and help each other reach goals and equality.