WGGS History: Our Earliest Annual Programs

WGGS was initiated in fall 2004 by League of Women Voters (LWV) and American Association of University Women (AAUW) as a collaborative committee with representatives from agencies serving girls, including the Boys and Girls Club, Capital Region BOCES, Carver APPS, Girls Inc., Girls Scouts NENY, Niskayuna School District, PFLAG, SAFE House, Schenectady City School District (SCSD), Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) of Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson (PPMH), Schenectady YWCA, and students from Union College and Schenectady High School.

We began with annual forums.

May 11, 2005 – “Strong Girls = Strong Communities,” held at Union College. Panel and discussion addressed issues of poverty, early sexual activity, homelessness, and media messages. Panelists represented Schenectady City School District, Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson, SAFE House, and Girls Inc.

November 10, 2005 – “The Importance of Mentoring,” a panel discussion, held at Union College, led to the publishing and distribution of , mentoring bookmark listing agencies that welcome adult mentors.

March 3, 2006 – “Girls and Violence,” a program held in collaboration with the Hamilton Hill Forum at Schenectady High School. Presenters were from Probation’s Juvenile Justice System and the Director of the Law, Orderm and Justice’s Peer Mediation.

May 10, 2006 – “What Does a Community Look Like that Cares About its Girls?”  held at the First Reformed Church of Schenectady. A panel of four high school girls spoke out about their concerns followed by break-out groups and summary in final large groups. Bullying and self esteem led the expressed concerns with bullying as the primary issue.

May 8, 9, 10, 2007 – “Odd Girl Out,” a film illustrating the consequences of bullying was shown at each of the three City of Schenectady middle schools to girls, followed by discussion groups facilitated by high school students (who had attended training sessions). A school counselor was present at each break out meeting and WGGS members acted as recorders.

May 14, 2008 –  “U R UGLY! When the Bully is a Girl,” held at the First Reformed Church of Schenectady.  Schenectady High School Peer Mediation students presented skits about girl-on-girl bullying. Panelists included Cathy Welling, BOCES Bullying Prevention Coordinator’ Jim Dillon, Principal at Lynwood Elementary School (GCSD); and Mary Ann McGovern, former Youth Aid Detective with the Niskayuna Police Department.  A five-page annotated resource packet, created by WGGS, listed books, programs, websites, videos, and other resources for parents, students, and professionals. Refreshments were underwritten by the Golub Foundation.

At this point, WGGS decided to provide services directly to girls with the Girls’ Day Out program. The first annual Girls’ Day out was held on November 18, 2009 with the theme “Breaking Barriers & Building Relationships.”