DALLAS — As North Texans prepare for the coming school year, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas will mark their commitment to building confident, resilient girls with a premier virtual event, Start Strong — a panel discussion to help parents of rising kindergarteners start their students’ education on the right foot. Featuring the perspectives of experts in mental health, social and emotional learning, education, and parenting, the event is part of a larger organizational initiative to help address girls’ mental health needs.
“Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas exists to help girls become their best selves, and carrying out that mission has never been more critical,” said Jennifer Bartkowski, CEO of Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas. “Girls today face immense internal and external challenges to their mental health. Organizations like Girl Scouts provide essential spaces for girls to build their confidence, overcome setbacks and challenges, and connect to caring adult mentors.”
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, today’s girls were facing significantly more challenges to their mental health than prior generations. According to a 2017 study, anxiety and depression are increasingly some of the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders for children ages 3-17, with rates of depression 13% higher for girls than for boys. Also, significantly more girls have been victims of cyberbullying, have needed treatment for mental health disorders, and have seriously considered suicide compared to 2007. All of this was before their worlds were disrupted by the novel coronavirus.
This spring, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas soft-launched mental-health-focused programming and activities for Girl Scouts, parents, troop leaders, volunteers and staff. Programming addresses the age-appropriate needs of each audience and focuses on helping girls overcome challenges, connecting girls to approachable experts, building empathy, teaching healthy habits integrating mental wellness, and employing tactics to help girls discover and develop a strong sense of self.
The council also launched a hands-on, activity-based patch program to help girls develop greater social and emotional confidence as they learn that it is okay to talk about mental health. The patch program runs through the year and is operated in partnership with Okay to Say and the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.
To kick off their programming for the new school year, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas will host a panel discussion to help parents of kindergartners prepare for what is sure to be a unique transition this fall. To register for the Start Strong panel, visit eventbrite.com/e/start-strong-kinder-prep-event-powered-by-girl-scouts-of-northeast-texas-tickets-112721539158.
Make New Friends is a four-part virtual series that provides opportunities for girls to strengthen four competencies as they enter kindergarten. This series allows them to connect with the same friends each week, as well as with Girl Scout staff and volunteers who lead them through sessions around language and literacy, cognition, approaches to learning, and social and emotional learning. Registration is free and open to girls entering kindergarten this fall.
To register or learn more about the Make New Friends Kinder Readiness series, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/make-new-friends-virtual-learning-series-tickets-114362762100.
In late August, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas will launch the “LookUp Challenge” – a partnership with Lookup.live. This week-long challenge helps children and adolescents avoid digital overload by finding unique ways to unplug and look up. Several additional events focused on mental health and wellness are being planned for the fall, including family-friendly film screenings, mental health first aid for volunteers, peers support training for older girls, and more. Visit gsnetx.org to learn more about coming events.