Our Mission & Approach

Empowering Middle School Girls to Promote Long Term Health

GEM is on a mission to improve the health and well-being of middle school girls by empowering them to take the lead in developing physical activity programs designed by girls, for girls.

We empower middle school girls to create sustainable habits for better long-term physical and mental health by providing leadership training, program management, and custom-designed, innovative tools and resources to GEM girl groups at over 100 sites. As youth leaders, girls take charge as they get active together and support and encourage their peers in setting and achieving goals.

As a statewide initiative to increase physical activity and fitness levels of Georgia’s middle school girls, GEM is engaging over 18,000 girls in schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, and Girl Scout Troops – AND motivating almost 200,000 girls to get moving!

Only 51% of girls have a healthy aerobic capacity – a measure of the ability of the heart, lungs, and muscles to perform sustained physical activity in the 5th grade. By grade 12, the number drops to 31%. GEM is changing this trend line by providing girls with access and opportunities for regular physical activity while empowering them to become change agents in their own communities.

Expanding Opportunities for Physical Activity

An important part of motivating girls to get active is ensuring there’s ample opportunity for them to lead and engage in a wide range of different physical activities.

To ensure success, we identify, train and support GEM Ambassador Leaders. These are girls who lead a group of their peers in developing a site-specific physical activity program.

The resulting programs provide access to relevant opportunities for girls to be active all year long and gives them a supportive safe space in a “girls-only” zone.

Supporting Emotional Well-Being

The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified health disparities and increased mental health issues for adolescents, adding to the rising levels of anxiety and depression already faced by middle school girls. Research has shown that engaging in regular physical activity can improve cognitive and mental health and physical self-perceptions, enhance self-esteem, and lower levels of anxiety, stress and depression.

GEM provides girls with a safe-space and girls-only zone where they can make unique social connections, experience a supportive atmosphere, and grow to be confident young women. GEM incorporates physical activity and mental well-being components into every aspect of the program and is highly focused on enhancing life skills and resilience. Throughout their GEM journey, girls take part in emotional wellness activities, mood tracking, mindfulness journaling, and learn coping methods and self-care skills.


Physical Activity Programs, Created by Girls, For Girls

Only half of middle school girls currently have a healthy aerobic capacity. Developing long-term wellness habits at a young age is critical in laying the foundation for healthy adulthood. At GEM, we’re addressing this problem by:

  • Providing leadership training and program resources to middle school girls and adult facilitators
  • Increasing physical activity opportunities designed specifically for middle school girls (outside of traditional sports)
  • Increasing the amount of time spent on physical activity
  • Improving healthy habits that are sustained for greater physical and mental health
  • Creating sustainable, girl-driven, physical activity programming within schools, Girl Scouts, and Boys and Girls Clubs

Together, we can do more. GEM partners with community and business organizations to give girls more leadership and physical activity opportunities while developing healthy habits for a lifetime.

GEM Leadership Team

The GEM leadership team is a diverse group of motivated middle school girls from across the state of Georgia. Together, they have taken the lead in designing every aspect of the program. Their combined expertise and knowledge ensure that the “girl voice” leads the development of the program, brand, communications, and resources.

The Girls Empowering Movement (GEM) program was informed by The Power Up for 30 Middle School Girls Pilot program. During the pilot, middle school girls were engaged in planning and implementing action steps for creating an out-of-school and school-based physical activity 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.