Physical Activity By Girls, For Girls
The Girls Empowering Movement Program (GEM) is removing barriers and obstacles to regular physical activity by providing unique youth-led programming that puts girls at the forefront of creating and implementing programs just for them. Through GEM, girls have a safe place to support one another, explore different types of physical activities, and learn health and wellness habits that can lead to improved mental health, stronger performance in school, and better heart health.
Research has shown that regular physical activity has a significant impact on both, physical and emotional health. According to the CDC, regular physical activity can help children and adolescents improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing health conditions such as: heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and obesity.
Program Training, Tools, and Resources
Girls participating in GEM groups receive in-depth leadership training, program resources, and guidance from an on-site Adult Facilitator. The online GEM Dashboard and customized GEM Journal serve as tools that provide a blueprint for each step of the program with interactive components and learning modules that give the girls the framework to create and implement a program that truly fits their needs. Girls also receive digital activity trackers, water bottles, backpacks, t-shirts, and other branded items
Creating a “Girls Only” Zone
Many girls have barriers to getting active, such as low self-confidence, lack of opportunities, and a safe place without fear of judgment. That’s why GEM puts the power in girls’ hands to create a program that is right for them.
GEM Ambassadors work together in a group of 20-25 of their peers to develop site-specific physical activity and wellness programs based on individual preferences, motivators, and goals.
Girls MOVE Milestones
During the Girls MOVE phase of the program, girls receive a GEM bracelet and earn a specific bead that corresponds to each “GEM Mine” or section of the program once it is completed. There are 10 different mines that girls work through – leading activities and working together to complete various learning tasks, personal and group goals, and physical activity experiences along the way. The girls utilize the online GEM Dashboard and printed GEM Journals as guides throughout their journey – starting with the Blue Sapphire “Forming” mine and finishing with the Onyx “Evaluating” mine. Girls are empowered as leaders through the process of creating a successful program, and becoming confident in how they move, fuel their bodies and connect to one another.
The GEM Mines
During the GEM program, girls learn valuable leadership and life skills as they move through each of the 10 GEM Mines. Girls lead the group meetings and activities with guidance and support from their Adult Facilitator.
- Forming – Girls form their GEM Group, selecting two GEM Ambassador Leaders.
- Norming – Girls decide on group norms and create a group agreement
- Communicating – Girls establish their plan for communicating with each other.
- Assessing – Girls complete three personal assessments including the PACER or 1 mile walk/run to utilize in setting personal goals and determine ways to support each other through the process.
- Creating Your Personal Physical Activity Plan – Girls set a personal fitness goal using the S.M.A.R.T. method and create a plan to improve their physical activity aerobic capacity fitness level.
- Exploring, Discovering, Leading – Girls have the opportunity to explore and lead different types of physical activities.
- Creating Your Group Physical Activity Plan – Girls work together to set a group fitness goal and create a plan to improve aerobic capacity fitness level.
- Strengthening Your Emotional Wellness – Girls use monthly mood trackers, reflect on their emotions, learn and practice a variety of coping skills, and develop a series of emotional wellness goal sentences.
- Fueling Your Body – Girls learn how to create healthy snacks, increase water consumption, partake in a fruit and vegetable taste test, and set a personal goal.
- Evaluating – Girls reassess the three personal assessments, reflect on results, and hold a GEM celebration.
Once completed, girls begin their Create A MOVEment GEM Project
Exploring New Physical Activities
A common barrier that prevents middle school girls from being more active is lack of access and opportunity. During the GEM program, girls take part in “exploring, discovering, and leading” various physical activities. From this experience, girls discover the activities they enjoy and become more confident in leading these activities in their GEM group and with friends and family. Girls also use their learnings to create a group physical activity plan, set goals to improve their physical activity and aerobic capacity levels, and track their progress.
Supporting Physical and Mental Health
Within the “Strengthening Your Emotional Wellness” mine, girls learn that their minds and bodies are connected and are given tools to support their physical and mental health. Girls participate in activities encouraging them to identify how they feel and learn ways to handle stress and conflict using a variety of coping skills like being active, getting creative, connecting with others, and shifting your mindset. “Mood trackers” for each month serve as a visual tool to help girls gauge how they are feeling on a daily basis and identify opportunities to implement coping strategies.
The GEM Journal
All girls receive a custom designed, printed GEM Journal that is used throughout the program. Each section of the Journal corresponds to the GEM mines and includes prompts and activities that help to reinforce the skills learned in each stage of the program. The Journal also incorporates an emotional wellness and physical activity prompt at the end of each section so girls can reflect on what they have each learned and how relates to their own personal experiences and daily life.
As a youth-led initiative, GEM puts the power into the hands of the girls to create and lead programming that will most benefit them. Unlike other programs, GEM was built from the ground up by a diverse group of middle school girls from across Georgia who serve on The GEM leadership Team. Their collective leadership, insights and feedback ensure that the girl voice is incorporated through all aspects of the program.
Through strong partnerships and unique programming, GEM is empowering girls to create physical activity programs, improve fitness levels, promote long term health, and enhance their emotional well-being. Your support today will help us continue to deliver innovative youth-led programming to girls across Georgia.