Girls Matter provides support, guidance, and training to teenage girls in Hanover Park, who have dropped out of school. The project also offers a peer group and a place where girls access affirmation, healthy food, and real relaxation. Girls Matter aims to enable these vulnerable girls to achieve balance in their lives by encouraging them to return to school, start training, or find employment. These are essential strategies to keep them out of gangs, where they are usually exploited and abused is another crucial objective.
Most children raised in gang areas experience multiple adverse childhood events (ACEs). A growing body of research shows that four or more ACEs dramatically increase the risks for chronic mental and physical health problems and early death. This risk is trans-generational and is a contributing factor to many of the gang, addiction, low levels of education, and high unemployment in Hanover Park.
Girls Matter’s focus is on individual mental health and wellness in a group of young women and mothers who have already demonstrated an inability to cope by dropping out of school. These are the mothers of the next generation. Research shows adolescents exposed to a caring adult who believes in them may increase resilience and dramatically alter the trajectory of their young lives and those of their children.