By Joanne Irons
Special to The SUN
Girl Talk girls celebrated their time spent together with a year-end party at The Springs and dinner at Farrago Market Cafe.
After spending four months together after school once a week, high school leaders Kylie Johnson, Amber Onello, Rose Graveson, Michelle Hamelmann and Kelly Martinez met and discussed Girl Talk conversations with fifth-grade girls to encourage healthy dialogues concerning real-life scenarios.
Adult mentors Joanne Irons and Lezlie White were on standby if needed, but as the curriculum guided the youth leaders, there was very little need for the adults.
Students who were able to attend 90 percent of the classes were surprised with new Girl Talk T-shirts and made a commitment to start up again in the fall and encourage other girls to join. Topics discussed ranged from environment, to leadership, trust and friendship, and even talk about boys. The high school leaders made it easy for the girls to talk to them where they might not bring up subjects with their parents, or get misinformation from peers.
This program was sponsored by Pagosa Springs Youth Center with the support of the El Pomar Foundation, Colorado Springs. The foundation has been a longtime supporter of youth programs and without Chamber executive director Mary Jo Coulehan’s involvement with the Southwest Council bringing many local programs to the table, Girl Talk would be at a loss. As it is, this is just the beginning for these girls as they grow the program.
The pioneers in the program include Alyssa Hubbs, Miah Shoffner, Alondra Echevaria, Amber Merfeld, Crystal Jarmillo, Rosa and Stefani Echavarria, Brayla Garcia, Mackenzie Patane, Kasey Archuleta, Savannah Unger and Kareli Guitierrez.
The program will pick up again following the popular Girls on the Run program, conducted by Archuleta County Victims Assistance Program and outreach coordinator Mara Koch. Many of the girls participate in both programs as the mission of each provides healthy positive growth in a young girl’s life. Many local nonprofits are engaged in bringing healthy programming after school to keep our youth inspired to grow and become the best that they can be.