YWCA Dayton is embarking on a slate of new programs to coincide with their recently-opened location in Huber Heights. Initiatives like the Girls LEAD! Center and other programs at the facility open the organization up to a bevy of new possibilities.
Youth and teen educators Donna Hill and Brianna Reynolds, who joined the staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, manage the Girls LEAD! program. Hill and Reynolds are not holding back on planning activities after completing a year of virtual programs with their participants.
“We want to try to do more in person programming where it's structured, where we're able to have guest speakers come in and do activities or facilitate or lead our girls through an important skill,” said Reynolds.
They see this plan as attainable since their goal is to build relationships with local businesses and organizations. The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is slated to lead students through STEM activities and experiments this summer. Students are also set to create art with University of Dayton professors, learn about financial literacy and familiarize themselves with Planned Parenthood at their summer camp.
Additional plans include raising money to purchase basketball hoops and volleyball nets and utilizing their computer lab for technology programming. The educators for the Girls LEAD! program also dreams of installing a rock wall in the future.
While there is excitement around what they can accomplish, the priority of Girls LEAD! is ensuring that the girls feel included in the process. Hill and Reynolds welcome feedback from participants on what they want to pursue during the program.
“We don't want to just tell them like, ‘Okay, here's everything that we're going to do. You don't have a choice if you're coming to Girls LEAD!,’” said Hill. “We want them to use their voice and to explore their own interests.”
As a part of YWCA Dayton, the Girls LEAD! program will continue to facilitate conversations around important issues and allow students to express themselves.
“I don't think there's a space like this that exists right now in the Dayton area. So we're really excited to be part of this change and a really positive opportunity,” said Hill.