Girls Inc. is a local charity dedicated to promoting positivity among young girls from 5-18 years of age. On Thursday October 25, Matador Eyeworks held a “Girls Inc. Social, where attendees had a chance to meet Executive Director Shelley Nicholls.

Girls Inc. offers summer day camps, as well as programming throughout the school year. Their goal is to encourage girls to grow up to be: Strong, Smart, and Bold. “We want to improve their resiliency and give girls the chance to try new things. If they fall in their face it’s okay we’re there to help them up,” Nicholls said. The group reached over 1,000 girls in 2017.

Carlene Lohing is the Board Chair. She learned about the charity through other volunteer work with United Way. “It’s giving them not just a safe place, but somewhere where they can feel safe and confident,” Lohing said. Lohing was given a chance to coach a baseball team over the summer, and noticed some changes. “They became a team. The cliques disbanded and they became more supportive of each other. It became like a family. A happy positive environment,” she said. She noticed the change in one girl who started off shy, barely saying a word. “Towards the end she became so confident,” Lohing explained. She had never coached baseball before, and felt like she led by example.

Girls Inc. is a cause close to Matador Eyeworks’ owners Zeena and Mark Appleby’s heart. Their daughter Angelina took a confidence building program after being bullied. They did cooking classes, and activities while learning to get along. “That’s kind of what I like. The program is fun, and they don’t even realize what they’re doing,” Zeena said. They noticed an impact on their daughter. “She seemed more confident, able to speak up for herself, and her friends,” Zeena said of Angelina. She wants to see other girls given the chance to do the same. “I think that it’s very important that every girl out there that’s afraid to speak up has the opportunity to go through the programming,” Zeena explained.

Nicholls wants parents to know that Girls Inc. is inclusive. “We see what’s going on in the greater community, and within the media. We see girls who are feeling bad about themselves because they don’t have whatever it is that is featured in the media. Whether it’s the long hair, or the large breasts, or the small waist. You don’t need all that. You’re a strong person, and we’re here for you as you are,” she said. For more information visit their website at: www.girlsinchalton.org
Photos by: Denise Cooperwhite

Laura Steiner
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