University of Arizona
College of Public Health

'Girls Club' promotes confidence, curbs bullying for students in Marana

'Girls Club' promotes confidence, curbs bullying for students in Marana

MARANA- A program through the University of Arizona's College of Public Health is working to curb bullying and boost self esteem in young girls. It's called "Girls Club" and this year it is helping fifth and sixth graders at Estes Elementary school.

"It's a lot of fun," said Fifth Grader Anaya Campbell.

"You have new friends, you get to experience new things," said Yanitsi Hernandez, a sixth grader.

However there is a purpose behind all the play. Even the smallest action, like cheering on a group, is designed to promote positive self image and acceptance.

"It means that they believe in you and they think you're a great person and you can do anything that anyone else can do ," said Campbell.

Dr. Velia Leybas Nuno is assistant director of the Center of Excellence in Women's Health, which has been running "Girls Club" for the past ten years. Dr. Nuno says recent advances in technology and social media are taking a toll on the way young girls see themselves and interact with others.

"We just try to work real hard at increasing awareness and then call people out on their behavior and reinforce the good behavior," said Dr. Nuno.

The TUSD, Sahuarita and Mammoth-San Manuel School Districts have also used the program, something Dr. Nuno hopes to continue as long as there is a need.

"To have confidence in themselves, to spend more time seeing their bodies in terms of what they have to offer and go beyond how they look, and to trust that they have the skills they need to do well," she said.

The program typically runs 13 weeks but the one at Estes Elementary goes for 22 weeks. Dr. Nuno is now applying for a research grant so the center can study how, and if, a longer intervention period yields better results.

April 2, 2014 9:00pm by Danielle Lerner - KVOA News 4 Tucson