Looking back at her middle school years, Tunkhannock Area High School junior Sophie Burke believes she would have benefitted from a group that promotes empowerment among young women.
That’s where her vision for the You Go Girl Club originated.
This semester, Burke has been volunteering her time with other classmates to mentor fifth grade girls in the school district.
“I definitely would hope that if I could just give a few girls more confidence, that they can go out and lead their own groups, or have the confidence to try something new or make some new friends, that’s definitely the goal,” she said. “Just to unite younger girls from an early age, because middle school is definitely hard.”
The club, which includes around 35 girls, began in early spring of this year.
Wednesday morning (June 12) was their final meeting for this school year, but Burke plans to continue You Go Girl this fall in her senior year.
The club has been busy creating vision boards, which are collages of images and affirmations that bring together one’s inspirations, passions, future goals and motivations.
Madison Warenzak, a You Go Girl member, incorporated images of places she wants to travel such as Cambodia, Ecuador and Brazil into her vision board.
These places are reminders of her future goal of becoming a church missionary, just like her aunt and uncle who live in Cambodia.
Warenzak also put images of food onto her board as a reminder of new dishes she can eat on her travels, plus her love of baking.
“It lets me spend more time with my friends and get closer to them,” she said of the club.
Other vision boards focused on aspirations such as becoming a veterinarian, helping people with diabetes and learning to cook.
In the future, Burke hopes to bring in activities like Zumba and additional mentors from within the school district and the Tunkhannock community to discuss topics like career possibilities.
Through the process of creating vision boards, students talked to their mentors about everything from their future career plans to shows they’re watching on television right now.
“When we first came in as a group, it was definitely girls from all different friend groups and everything,” Burke said. “Then we talked as a group together and I noticed at the end of the meeting, everyone was laughing and having fun together, asking each other questions and just really engaging as a group.”
Kate Krispin, a guidance counselor at the intermediate center, has also been instrumental in making Burke’s vision for the club a reality.
Relating the recent DARE program to You Go Girl, she said older students serving as mentors for younger students can have a positive effect.
“A lot of these messages are more powerful if students are delivering them,” Krispin said. “For me, it’s really a beautiful thing because the kids respect (Burke). They think ‘Oh wow, all these high school girls are coming here to tell us about how to be friends and social skills.’”
In Tunkhannock, the school district is “the hub of the town,” she said, so her hope is that students leave the group with a bigger sense of community.
“I want the students to go to a football game and say hi to the kids, to have some sort of connection with them, to feel like they have someone to talk to who is in the high school,” Krispin said.
For Burke, growing up with the values and principles instilled through programs like You Go Girl sets up a foundation for young girls to become community leaders.
“To me, empowerment just means knowing that you have the ability within yourself to do anything that you can dream of,” she said. “I think that if I had known that, I would have started this group a lot more early on. I want to pass it down to the underclassmen so that it continues out throughout the years and maybe the girls who are in it for the first year can then be mentors in the future.”