Working on Womanhood

Too many youth of color are exposed to traumatic experiences as a result of systemic racism—community violence, grief, and loss. For girls and young women, the trauma leads to PTSD, anxiety, and depression symptoms—significantly more than their male peers. Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, 45% of girls in Boston Public Schools reported feeling sad or hopeless for two or more weeks. Behaviors associated with the experience of trauma in girls are often punished and criminalized, particularly in girls of color. When students have access to guidance and tools they need to be successful in school, we secure a brighter and healthier future.

Working On Womanhood (WOW) is an in-school, group-based counseling and clinical mentoring program that cultivates leadership, promotes mental health, and fosters the social-emotional skills of girls and young women in grades 6th -12th. To do so, WOW applies a therapy-based approach that addresses gender-specific needs by increasing self-image and self-worth for female-identifying students. WOW strengthens critical protective factors and reduces high-risk behaviors among girls by helping them to cope with negative thoughts, interrogate their automatic responses, respond reflectively in high-stakes situations, solve problems, and build self-efficacy to make positive and healthy decisions, and ultimately, be leaders in their schools and their communities.

WOW was selected as the 13th portfolio organization in Boston for its proven ability to positively impact girls’ mental health and ensure they are on track academically for graduation, particularly girls of color. 62% of WOW participants experienced fewer PTSD symptoms, 71% experienced fewer depression symptoms, and 96% reported that the program has helped them make better decisions for themselves.

WOW is a program of Youth Guidance, an organization that creates and implements school-based programs that enable at-risk children to overcome obstacles, focus on their education and, ultimately, achieve success in school and in life.

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