“I know middle school can be stressful and a time when self-esteem issues can begin,” Ingram said. “I started GEMS as a way to make the girls more confident with who they are and to try and teach them that we are all different and that’s okay. We don’t have to be cookie-cutter. They should celebrate who they are.”
After finishing the program at Campbellsburg Elementary School last week, fifth-grader Kerragan Bowles said she’s ready to tackle the challenges of middle school. Bowles decided to join GEMS primarily to hang out with her friends and do neat crafts. She’s coming away with much more.
“I’ve learned about self-confidence and self-esteem,” Bowles said. “And I think I’ve got them both.”
During the sessions at each school, the girls enjoy crafts, team-building and self-esteem activities, self-defense and aerobics, and a number of speakers who provide information to the girls on confidence, hygiene, coping strategies, health and more. Although Ingram loses touch with most of the girls when they move on to middle school, she will occasionally run into a former GEM.
“Just last week I had an older girl tell me that she still has the photo album I gave them with the pictures I took of them during GEMS,” Ingram said. “That warmed my heart because it lets me know that she enjoyed GEMS. It was an important part of her life during that time and it still has meaning for her.”
Ingram said she would love for members of the community to contact her if they would like to present a craft or activity to GEMS. She would be particularly interested in a Zumba session, line dancing or a sewing or quilting lesson for the group. She will offer GEMS at New Castle and Eastern Elementary Schools later this school year.
“I really enjoy the time I have with the girls and hope that they learn something during the time we spend together,” Ingram said.
For Bowles, the lessons she learned in GEMS will serve her well when she moves up to sixth grade.
“I think GEMS has helped me prepare for middle school,” Bowles said. “It’s important to learn to be yourself and not care so much what other people think.”
If you’d like to support GEMS in some way, please contact Ingram at (502) 845-8622 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fifth grade girls in the Henry County Public Schools have an opportunity to get together for Girls Empowered and Motivated to Succeed (GEMS), a support group aimed at preparing girls to transition to middle school by arming them with self-esteem and self-confidence. Front row from left to right is Addison Morgan, Haliegh Phillips, Family Resource Center Director and GEMS leader Renata Ingram, Riley Cottrell and Balee King. Second row, Aubree Kirk, Abigail Holcomb, Marie Cummings, Kerragan Bowles, Jaelynn Williams, Henrietta Schneider, Clara Wix and Sara Wilkerson. Not pictured are Sara Treece and Kamryn Staley.