EMPOWER- A Social-Emotional Curriculum for Girls in the 21st Century

Navigating through the many periods of life introduces adverse and difficult situations that require specific skills and resilience techniques to overcome. Young girls certainly face many challenges when faced with puberty and adolescent years. Compas et al. and Kraaij et al. (1993, 2003) expressed that, "a common theme that has emerged from the research is that adolescent girls are emotionally more vulnerable than are adolescent boys and are at greater risk of developing mental health disorders" (as cited by Yeo, Ang, Chong, and Huan, 2007, p.64). Gaining knowledge and having understanding of coping skills will benefit their social-emotional development. This project is aimed towards young girls in grades 4 through 6 in the modern world. Our project is a preventative counseling curriculum that can be easily used in a school setting for a wide variety of girls based on differing needs. It encompasses critical areas of social-emotional development such as empathy, meaningful relationships, positive body image, stress management, problem solving, and self-advocacy. Teaching these skills at a young age will allow them to practice and understand how to use different coping skills in various situations, especially in the transitional time of adolescence. Patterson & McCubbin supported the idea that "middle adolescents are limited in terms of life experiences and coping skills, and emotional difficulties can make them more vulnerable to psychological maladjustment; hence, there is a need for school-based preventive programs that would teach coping strategies to build psychological resilience" (as cited by Yeo, Ang, Chong, and Huan, 2007, p. 76). Integrating protective factors in our schools will strengthen resiliency and help combat risk factors that are prevalent in each child's life. It is our goal to provide an accessible curriculum to enhance school connectedness, teach lifelong skills, and serve as a preventive measure to decrease the prevalence of mental health difficulties in young women.