BY CHERYL HOLLIS, SENIOR PROGRAM DIRECTOR - CHARLESTON
“On your mark, get set, GO!!!” Every day felt like the starting line of a race when it came to three particular girls in my nest. I could see myself in these three girls—each of them trying to one-up the other and even one-up themselves. They were definitely competing in the same race, and whether it was their hairstyle, their new clothes, their grades, they wanted to win.
As I tried to put myself into their shoes to better understand the reasoning behind their need to compete, I realized that I had indeed been in their shoes before when I was growing up and fighting for my own moment in the spotlight. I realized then that I could use my ability to step into their shoes to help relate to them and serve as a positive influence in their social and emotional development.
WINGS had taught me so much over the course of my experience as a WINGSLeader, why not focus my attention on helping these girls celebrate what makes them unique, allowing them to stay in the race, while also helping them to understand they could all finish the race together?
While the girls were respectful to me, they lacked when it came to loving and respecting their peers and celebrating their unique attributes. Week by week I worked especially hard to bring that week’s objective into my nest and help these girls learn to work together and respect one another.
I started to see a change in the girls within a matter of a few months, and the girls soon started focusing their competitive energy on working together to teach me the latest secret handshake and schoolyard games. They also began to listen to one another, and ask advice and opinions of their peers, genuinely valuing the responses they received. It was amazing to see how a social and emotional education like we provide can really reach kids in such a quick and positive way.
Now all three girls are in their senior years of high school and all three are planning to attend college next year. One of the girls is only attending school half time, as she’s ahead of her fellow seniors; another will be the first in her family to attend college. But the days of these three girls competing against one another are long gone, and all three are supportive of the progress they’ve each made. I couldn’t be prouder of all three and excited to see where they soar from here!