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Middle school has always been a challenging time for adolescents, but the advent of social media has made it more daunting than ever.
Girls Unlimited (GU) has come to the rescue for girls living in these turbulent times. Since 2011, we have touched the lives of nearly 11,000 girls, giving them the tools they need to become their most authentic selves, and empowering them to follow their dreams. Most important, through the GU program they come to realize that they are not alone.
Girls Unlimited is an evidence-based program with research designed by leading authorities in the field of bullying.
How We Help
- We go into middle schools for five consecutive days to work with every girl in the seventh grade!
- We divide the girls into small groups so we can create a safe, trusting environment where they can share their feelings, have those feelings validated and learn they are not alone.
- We role-model empathy, build self-esteem and give girls the tools they need to support themselves and each other as they follow their dreams.
- We teach them to resolve conflicts peacefully.
- We empower them to be their very best selves and to stand up for themselves and each other.
Girls Unlimited believes in creating safety in our schools: physically, emotionally, socially, and morally so that students will excel academically.
Society teaches girls at a young age to avoid conflict. Rather than confronting problems, girls tend to channel their hurt and anger, and often resort to relational aggression. Recent studies have found that relational aggression among girls begins as early as preschool. By middle school it is rampant!
Relational aggression harms others by damaging, manipulating, or injuring an individual’s relationships with his/her peers. It includes such hurtful behaviors as gossiping, spreading rumors, exclusion, and power struggles. Most relational aggression takes place within intimate social circles, and occurs predominately among girls. Girls often use friendships as a weapon to threaten or damage another person’s feelings of social acceptance. The lasting effect of relational aggression includes anxiety, loneliness, depression and low self-esteem, which can lead to suicide ideation, isolation, cutting, and other forms of self-harm.
Through the Girls Unlimited program, students learn:
- Practical ways to manage their anger or upset
- How to intervene when witnessing relational aggression
- The meaning of self-respect and self-care
- The value of trust
- The importance of women bonding together
We believe that teaching young people emotional intelligence is as critical to their development as teaching them math, science, and social studies. One does not become a good citizen of the world without instruction, expectation, and role models. The messages bombarding girls today are not always positive ones. The pressure to be thin, sexy, and yes, sometimes mean, is in our magazines, on television and on the Internet. It is our hope that Girls Unlimited can combat some of those messages by empowering young women to be their best, most peaceful selves.
Why Middle School?
Middle school is traditionally a difficult transition period. Biological, emotional and social changes collude to make the establishment of trusting relationships a tricky endeavor. Girls, in particular are prone to react emotionally to the stresses of adolescence. This is a time when girls begin to forge their own identities and determine where they fit into the world. This is also a time when relational aggression may become prevalent in and out of the school environment.
By recognizing and addressing the hurtful covert behaviors of peer aggression at this transitional age, we can promote a positive and productive environment in our schools and communities.
Letter to Parents
Welcome to Girls Unlimited, a program where you can be assured your daughter is in good hands. A highly successful program of The Peace Center, Girls Unlimited is a school-based social/emotional intelligence program that provides a safe place for girls to discover their authentic selves.
In small group settings within their schools, we create a nonjudgmental environment where girls can grow socially, emotionally, and morally.
Your daughter will be given lists of options for confronting uncomfortable situations head-on. She will develop appreciation for her unique gifts and will be given tips on how to share those gifts with her friends, her school, her community and the world.
She will be inspired. She will be nurtured. Most important, she will be HEARD.
We are taking your daughter on a journey of self-discovery. Wish her Bon Voyage!
The Bad News
1/3 of girls suffer from depression and 20% are medicated for it
Suicide has overtaken automobile accidents as a leading cause of death among middle schoolers!
89% of girls report being sexually harassed at school
The Good News
Girls Unlimited is an evidence-based program with research designed by Drs. Warren and Robin Heydenberk at Lehigh University, The Heydenberks are nationally renowned experts in the field of bullying. Research is conducted in EVERY SCHOOL after EVERY PROGRAM.
After completing the Girls Unlimited program:
98% of girls report improved friendships.
82% report that relationships between all students improved.
89% report decreased bullying of siblings.
54% reported a decrease in cyberbullying
86% report improved listening skills.
76% report they are happier.
40% report their grades have improved.
Numbers (Report Card)
We touch the lives of more than 2000 girls in Bucks County annually.
Girls Unlimited is also being run at school districts around the country.
By spring of 2019 we will have reached nearly 11,000 girls!
How we Roll Out Girls Unlimited
- Send a request to our director, Karin Kasdin at firstname.lastname@example.org detailing the name of your school and your location and your contact information. Your email will be returned within 24 hours.
- We will have a phone conversation regarding regarding your school’s unique needs. (Number of girls, if there has been conflict, pertinent issues, budget)
- Based on the information we will schedule a program at your school
Grade Level: 7
Number of sessions: 5 over the course of one or two weeks
The Benefits of Programs Like Girls Unlimited
- Girls learn they are not alone in feeling the way they feel. Learning this develops empathy for others.
- Girls feel empowered to be themselves and not cave in to peer pressure. This sets them on a path for the future.
- Girls learn that true beauty comes from within. This makes them less judgmental of others.
- Girls connect with other girls and become committed to standing up for one another. This builds personal power.
Without question, the results of Girls Unlimited are clear: improved relationships between students, reduced instances of student disciplinary consequences, and increased instances of positive resolutions to conflict. In the data-driven educational environment in which we now operate, Karin Kasdin has a proven track record of working diligently to meaningfully enhance relationships in schools.
Dennis Best, principal William Tennent High School
Our students overwhelmingly report a positive experience with Girls Unlimited. It has also provided our staff with language and ideas to implement supports to decrease bullying and increase connectedness. Girls Unlimited provides the groundwork for our girls and our staff to address issues germane to this generation and in a way that they absorb and enjoy.
Laurie Zila, CARES coordinator, Newtown Middle School
I often find myself reflecting on my experience with Girls Unlimited, both on the special moments where there seemed to be a break through with the students, and on the network of respect and support among the facilitators, particularly with your passionate and thoughtful leadership. I still consider my time working with you to be one of the things I am proudest of having done in my life, because I felt like your program tackled some of the toughest issues in all the right ways.
Kyra Spence, Former GU facilitator
Girls Unlimited changed my life! It taught me that it doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done or where you come from. You can always change to become a better version of yourself.
Madeline Campbell—graduate of Girls Unlimited program
The overall climate of our building seems to change because of Girls Unlimited. II seems to unify and bring our students together. Each year I look forward to working with these amazing women. If I had it my way we would have Girls Unlimited here each and every year!
Steve Pierce, Guidance Counselor, Neil Armstrong Middle School
Meet the Directors
Karin Kasdin (Founding Director) holds an M.Ed. from Harvard University with a concentration on adolescent development. She has also studied television and its impact on children and adolescents. Karin has worked with young people for more than three decades in varied environments both in and out of the classroom. For fifteen years she owned The Kasdin School of Dramatic Arts before deciding to concentrate her efforts on social/emotional intelligence in educational environments. Senator Bob Casey cites it as a model for middle schools nationwide. Ms. Kasdin is a published author of five books on various subjects related to parenting, and her articles have appeared in The New York Times, Ms. Magazine, Parenting, and others. Her latest book is for middle school girls and is titled, “It’s Not Drama; It’s My Life!”
Lisa Litovsky, (Associate Director) holds a BS degree in Special Education from Russell Sage College. In her 34 years in the classroom she has worked with children of all ages, both in regular and special education classes. Lisa worked for the Union County Educational Services Commission in New Jersey as a master teacher for emotionally disturbed adolescents. She also worked at the Von E. Mauger Middle School as a master teacher for emotionally and learning disabled students.