Ariel, Dara, Courtney, Kerry, Emalee, and Emily are SuperStars in their community! Ariel, Dara, Courtney, Kerry and Emalee are mentors through the Girl Talk chapters they started at their schools. Emily is a 6th grade Girl Talk participant who has created her own line of jewelry which she sells and donates the funds to nonprofit organizations. Read more to find out how these girls are SuperStars in their community!
I was inspired to start a Girl Talk Chapter after seeing all of the tragedy at my school. There were girls getting pregnant, girls in clinics for eating disorders, girls addicted to drugs or alcohol and even one girl who committed suicide, because of her personal body image. Growing up with Crouzon Syndrome, a rare, life threatening disease where the bones in the head don't grow, I was well aware of the struggles and cruelty kids at the middle and high school level displayed. I knew what these girls were going through, but it still upset me and I felt helpless. These were girls I knew, girls I had been friends with. I knew I had to be different, and not let them bring me down.
Through starting and leading a Girl Talk Chapter, I have grown as a person and truly become a better person. I am much wiser, independent and have developed leadership skills. Throughout this experience, I have learned that if you want something to change, YOU have to do it. If you wait around for things just to become different over night, you’re wasting time. Change starts with one person, and I have realized that person can be me. I now know that anything is possible, and Girl Talk has shown me that. I always thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but after becoming a Girl Talk Leader, I have discovered that my passion is working with students in middle school. I am now planning to go to school to become an 8th grade middle school English and history teacher. I plan to start more Chapters of Girl Talk while I am away at school, and even when I begin working as a teacher. Girl Talk has changed my life, and I want to help so that it changes other girls’ lives as well.
Courtney started a Girl Talk Chapter at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in the winter of her junior year. Since then, the program has increased exponentially in both size and publicity. The Sandy Springs Reporter and Buckhead Reporter recognized Courtney as a “Standout Student” this fall for her work with Girl Talk and the Atlanta community. Most recently, she was honored to have the CEO of the Century Council and the Attorney General of Georgia speak at a Girl Talk program on underage drinking at Holy Innocents’. Courtney also participates in her school’s theatre program, is President the National Honor Society, Secretary of Student Council, Editor-in-Chief of her school newspaper and plays varsity golf. She is attending Vanderbilt, where she hopes to major in Communications or English.
Dara DeMatteo is seventeen years old and a junior at North Atlanta High School, where she is in an intensive study program called International Baccalaureate. Being a straight A student, academics has always been important to her and a top priority. Besides school she can most likely be found on the soccer field. Playing has always been one of her passions from a young age. It has taught her leadership, commitment, and most of all, team work. This past summer she got the opportunity to be involved with Girl Talk, just volunteering in their offices, and she instantly fell in love. She started a Chapter with two of my close friends at Sutton Middle School and it has been an amazing experience so far. Each Tuesday, after they have their weekly meeting, she is immediately inspired by the girls and their ability to grow and help each other. Although her life seems to get busier and busier each year, she has to reflect back on the amazing opportunities that she has been given and she knows that she wouldn't be where she is today without hard work and making smart decisions.
Many people wish they could make a difference in the world...Emalee Krulish goes out and does it. Rather than sitting back and wishing that our school had a group aimed at promoting kindness and community service and rejecting bullying, Emalee made it happen. She approached me, a guidance counselor at her school and asked if she could start an anti-bullying group. She made signs and tried to recruit members for the group, but without a real mission, it was hard to get started. We couldn't figure out how to measure success of a group aimed at stopping a behavior. We then shifted our focus so that we could improve the positive aspects of the school. Shortly after we decided to make this change, Emalee's mother told her that she had heard of a group called Girl Talk on TV. It was like our wishes had been granted! Since that time, our weekly meetings have taught many of our students how to deal with adversity, which has resulted in less gossip and greater confidence.
Besides helping girls express their feelings in a nonjudgmental environment, Emalee, her co-leader Christina, and the rest of the group did several remarkable community service projects. In November and December they made "Girl Talk Glitter"--beaded bracelets that they donated to girls who were in the hospital. Emalee and Christina bought the supplies with their own money. In January we had a Sock Hop, complete with root beer floats, Bazooka gum, and hoola hoops. That was a great way for students to get out and do something fun and safe. In February, we had a "Heart and Sole" shoe drive. The girls collected over 200 pairs of shoes from people in the school and out in the community (the post office, grocery store, churches, etc...). We are in the process of sending the shoes to Shoe4Africa using the money that we collected at the Sock Hop, and also money that Emalee asked her friends and family to donate to our Girl Talk chapter in lieu of birthday gifts. Emalee's strong, positive leadership has made Maple Grove such a wonderful, happy place. She is an inspiration to students and teachers alike.
Emily is a 6th grade girl who has made a commitment to make good choices and positively influence her peers. She was recently named one of Atlanta’s “Top 20 Under 20” because of her commitment to giving back. In 2008, Emily started a jewelry company called Pop Rocks Jewels (poprocksjewels.org) with inspiration from her role model, Haley Kilpatrick, founder of Girl Talk, a program in middle schools to empower young girls. Proceeds from the sale of the jewelry goes to the Ronald McDonald House, Bert’s Big Adventure, Atlanta Humane Society and Girl Talk. In the last two years, Pop Rocks Jewels has donated nearly $3,000. “Through Pop Rocks Jewels, I have gotten to meet some amazing kids that inspire me with how they handle some seriously tough illnesses and hard times,” Emily said. “It’s also super cool when adults tell me that I inspire them to get more involved and help the community. That makes me really proud.”
At the end of my sophomore year in high-school, I started drifting away from good friends and good decisions. Instead of saying "No" to peer-pressure, I gave into it. By the end of my junior year, I was on the verge of being kicked out of my high school. During the summer, I did some serious soul-searching and found myself. I decided to devote my senior year to a project that helped young girls avoid peer-pressure and bad-decision making. After a couple of weeks of researching different organizations, I found Girl Talk and saw that it was exactly what I was looking for! I contacted different administrators in my school and proposed my ideas. After several meetings during the summer, my Academic Dean and Non-Academic Administrator agreed to incorporate Girl Talk into Westminster. Over the next two months, I diligently prepared for the coming school year.
Although some students and teachers were unsure if my "change" was genuine, I have proved to them and to myself that people can change and make a difference. The Westminster Academy Chapter includes all 112 middle school girls and 35 high school Leaders. Over the course of the school year, I have planned and participated in several community service projects. In October, I helped plan The Walk for Life 2008, a fundraiser and walk-a-thon aimed at preventing abortions and promoting life. In November of 2008, I found a wonderful organization Called Broward Children's Center, a home for mentally and physically challenged children and teenagers. Since November, our Girl Talk Leaders and I have volunteered on a weekly basis at the center, playing and working with the kids. In December, I organized a gift drive for the Children's Center. We collected several boxes of toys and games. Some of the Girl Talk Girls and I went to the Children's Center and handed out the gifts. We spent hours playing with the kids and their new toys! In April, my Advisors, several Girl Talk Leaders and I planned a special slumber party for all the middle school girls. It was a fun-filled night with dancing and games.
Girl Talk has changed my life in so many ways. It has been a great outlet for me and I have every intention of working with Girl Talk in the years to come. I told myself when I started my Chapter, if I could help one girl avoid the mistakes I made when I was younger, everything I went through would be worth it. My dreams have come true this year and I am so thankful for the continued encouragement and opportunities Girl Talk has provided me with.