Vail Valley Scenery column: Girl PowHER helps young women believe in themselves | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley Scenery column: Girl PowHER helps young women believe in themselves

Young women and girls are bombarded with images and messages from media and peers telling them who they should be, which is often not the person they see reflected in the mirror. They often muddle through a developmental stage in which they do not yet feel confident enough in their own identities or values to go against their peer group, and we all know that acceptance by peers can be more important to a teenager than doing the right thing, the safe thing or even the thing the teenager actually wants to do.

From pressure to be accepted through risky behavior or focusing on high grades, boyfriends or SAT scores, pressure is pressure, and without support, girls often flounder or worse.

"From personal experience, I know how challenging middle and high school can be," said Girl PowHER founder Amanda Precourt. "From bullying to puberty to the stress of school, it can be a daunting time in a young woman's life."

Last week, the Vail Valley Foundation, its YouthPower 365 initiative and Precourt hosted an annual fashion show to raise funds for Girl PowHER at the Marriott in Vail. Girl PowHer is a project of YouthPower365, which is the new name for the old Youth Foundation programs. In five years, more than 400 girls have gone through GirlPowHER. Eight girls could afford college through its scholarship program, and last year's fashion show allowed the organization to successfully implement new programming for ninth graders at Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley high schools.

"I started Girl PowHER five years ago with the goal to help young women navigate the challenges of their adolescent and teen years through sports, positive mentoring, the arts and general mindfulness," Precourt said.

Support for Adolescents is crucial

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Spring looks provided by Perch, Luca Bruno and Luca Bruno Due, Garbarini and Gray Salt were modeled by a plethora of locals, including Argie Ligeros, Elaine Kelton, Bethany Haerter, Sarah Millet and Liz Ziegler. Three Girl PowHER alumni also participated, Yoana Gonzalez, Rocio Martinez and Sandra Loera. This year, men had the opportunity to step up with the ladies, and Chupa Nelson, Bill Sterritt, Eric Wagenknecht, Jack Roach and Erik Sale strutted their stuff on the catwalk. Both ladies and gents were primped and styled by Susan Wagenknecht and her staff from W Salon.

The program fills a need in the community to support young girls as they transition from middle school into high school. One of the big indicators for high school dropouts is that it starts in middle school, so connecting with girls at that age to give them support during that time is crucial. About 115 girls participate from Battle Mountain High School and Eagle Valley High School, Berry Creek, Eagle Valley and Gypsum Creek middle schools, with the hope to expand high school programming through 12th grade. Ultimately, the goal is to reach every girl in middle and high school at both public and private schools in the valley. The program costs around $1,100 per year per girl, which covers mentors, guest speakers and special events, in addition to the college scholarship program.

For more information about Girl PowHER and YouthPower 365, contact Lauren DesCombes, development officer for YouthPower 365, at 970-777-2015 or ldescombes@vvf.org.