12-year-old YES youth Amelia and Tamsen have big dreams. Amelia would like to be a lawyer or doctor some day while Tamsen dreams of becoming a robotic engineer. These are big dreams for any child, regardless of their gender, but it’s especially easy for young girls to get pushed or persuaded out of their dreams by society’s expectations for females.
That is where Girls Outdoor Adventure Leaders (GOAL) steps in. GOAL is a year-round YES program that provides pre-teen and teen girls (ages 11-14) with opportunities to develop leadership skills, explore individual sports, improve self-esteem, and challenge gender stereotypes. Girls come together to support one another and create spaces that allow for safe, open discussions on topics like identity, fitness and nutrition, body image, healthy relationships, peer pressure, and diversity.
Amelia, who is entering the seventh grade this fall at Boston Latin Academy, joined GOAL two years ago. Prior to joining GOAL, she didn’t spend a lot of time outside. With GOAL, Amelia has been able to try new sports she wouldn’t have ever attempted, like stand-up paddleboarding and rock climbing. She remembers rock climbing at Thompson Island for the first time and completing the daunting task of climbing the 62-foot Alpine Tower, “I didn’t think I would have the strength or courage to climb that high.”, Amelia remembers. Through self-determination and the encouragement of her fellow GOAL girls and GOAL staff, Amelia got to the top and was rewarded with a spectacular view of Boston.
Tamsen has had similar experiences as a GOAL girl over the past three years now. She’s been able to experience the outdoors through mountain biking and surfing trips with GOAL, neither of which she had tried before YES. Remembering a day rollerblading with GOAL, Tamsen says, “I kept saying that I couldn’t do it but everyone said I should try and I got a little better at it by the end of the day.”
Schools don’t always teach girls about feminism and related issues such as stereotypes and body image, so GOAL works to fill that gap with knowledge that will keep girls working towards achieving their dreams and supporting one another. Both Tamsen and Amelia now firmly believe that girls can do anything, and as long as they put their minds to it, the sky’s the limit for them.
Apply for the school-year GOAL program. Applications due Friday, October 21.