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Chick Chat helps Geneva girls develop sense of self

Published: Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

GENEVA – Geneva Coalition for Youth, Geneva School District 304 and TriCity Family Services have teamed up to offer Chick Chat, an initiative to help fourth- and fifth-grade girls develop a stronger sense of self.

“The whole idea is really … to give them tools so they can deal with issues beforehand, so drugs and alcohol won’t be a choice in all this,” said Julie Pouilly, coalition president. “We want to catch these girls before they get to middle school and before they hit those ‘mean girl’ years.”

The all-day event is from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 9. Facilitators will aid girls to seek out tools to form stronger relationships, explore strengths, learn ways to make healthy decisions and develop their sense of self. The event includes lunch and healthy snacks.

About 100 girls have registered, but there is capacity for 300 at Geneva Middle School North,1357 Viking Drive, Pouilly said. The cost is $30 a girl. The registration deadline is Friday. Girls may register online at www.tricityfamilyservices.org or by calling 630-232-1070. Scholarships will be offered to families in need.

“As a coalition, we are about building assets and helping kids and families make good choices,” Pouilly said. “We needed something positive and not banging them over the head with ‘Don’t do drugs and alcohol.’ Clearly, it is not working.”

Pouilly said the Chick Chat program was created at Downers Grove School District 58 called Helping Girls Navigate Adolescence Inc., which they have been using since 2005.

“One of the breakout sessions is called ‘Be Your Best Self,’ which is cultivating inner beauty and not putting as much emphasis on the outside,” Pouilly said. “There is a session called ‘Friends, Enemies and Fiascos’ that gives the girls tools to deal with relationship issues. Like what you do if you are bullied.”

Pouilly said Downers Grove agreed to share the program with District 304 at no cost, but in exchange for feedback. After they finish updating the program, they plan to share it across the nation, she said.

Parents are needed to volunteer for Chick Chat by calling Michelle Clark at 630-232-1070.

Donations are needed to support the program, as the actual cost is $40 for each girl. Donations cam be sent to TriCity Family Services, 1120 Randall Court, Geneva, IL 60134.

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