Riley was 9 years old when she became a ChatterGirl. A year later, she recalled feeling a bit anxious before the first session.
“I was not feeling like I fit in,” she said. “I felt like nobody was going to like me. But the room was filled with girls just like me. I learned I don’t have to be in the shadows.”
Riley said she still has her mirror and her mask and she continues to journal —another key component of Changing the Chatter. Like other program graduates, she also makes frequent use of her CDs.
“I listen to them 217 days out of 365,” the precocious 10-year-old said. “I feel like I’m a better person from ChatterGirls.”
In fact, as I write this book, Riley is looking forward to her 11th birthday, so she can take the program again as part of the older girls’ group.
Riley’s mother, Sarah, said her daughter came away from each session happy and excited to talk about what she did at Changing the Chatter, and what she got to bring home. With each passing week, Riley’s self-reliance and confidence grew.
The program works, helping young girls to feel great about themselves so that they are more secure about revealing their true natures to the world, the mom said. Participants learn to encourage one another from the start in a safe, comfortable and nonjudgmental setting.
“Not only is it financially doable, but the girls are spending a lot of time doing and learning, not sitting there being talked at,” Sarah said. “It’s definitely been a positive experience. She wants to go back.”
Riley said she used to feel a bit like a misfit; she didn’t fit the cheerleader mold nor was she part of an “in” crowd at school. Now she chats happily about her sewing skills, her mind for math and science, and how much she enjoys swim team practice, Irish dancing, art and music.
In short, she’s pretty great, and she’s no longer in the shadows, afraid to show it. Changing the Chatter was key for Riley, and can be for all young girls.
“It’s like having magic powers that you use only for good,” said Riley, who aspires to be a doctor or surgeon one day. “It teaches younger girls to have enthusiasm and courage, to speak up to bullies and to put up your game … it makes me feel comfortable around other people.”
Helping young girls to achieve that comfort level — within themselves and around others—has been so tremendously gratifying. We’ve made a great, impactful start, but there’s so much more we can do.
That is why I am devoted to expanding the program’s sphere, enabling caring leaders across the country to experience these same highly desirable and fantastic outcomes. The women of tomorrow deserve it. They deserve to arrive at adulthood’s door with a strong, clear sense of self, and the confidence to share their gifts with the world.
“There’s not a single person who cannot benefit from this kind of program,” said Emma, mother of ChatterGirl Sofi. “Every woman has people out there trying to stab her in the back. Look at women on TV. If they’re not being objectified, they’re being called bossy or bitchy because they’re trying to take control.
“ChatterGirls was so well worth it for Sofi,” Emma continued. “It’s something that has stuck with her.”
~ I have the power within to accomplish great things. ~