Studies show that girls between ages 10 and 15 are at risk for problems with drugs, alcohol and sexual activity, said Michelle DiPenti of the General Heiser Boys and Girls Club in Dumfries. To combat the risks, the Boys and Girls Club will offer the SMART Girls program for young women Thursday nights until the end of the school year, said DiPenti, Boys and Girls Club educational director.
The program, sponsored by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation Inc.
, is designed to "provide gender- and age-specific information to help young women develop the necessary skills to have a long and healthy life," according to a recent press release.
"It's a program for girls to help them build self-esteem and help them learn more about their bodies," DiPenti
Girls who attend the one-hour programs will also learn how to develop good lifetime nutritional habits, acquire healthy exercise habits and learn to access the health care delivery system, Penti
said in the release.
Though SMART Girls
is a continuing program, girls can jump in at any session and participate as they are able, DiPenti
The program runs until June 17.It will include guest speakers, field trips and visits from local celebrities, such as members of the George Mason University
women's basketball team
"It's bonding for girls, building relationships with mentors," DiPenti