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Safe Spaces: “There is nothing more secure than a place that allows you to become a better version of yourself.”

Every girl has the right to feel physically and emotionally safe.

Jaliyah, a Pace Miami girl who aspires to become a doctor, reflected on her definition of ‘safe space’ and shared: “When I come to Pace, I feel more of a homey vibe. I come to Pace, and I feel comfortable. I don’t feel scared to be here.”

At Pace, we incorporate self-reflection and mindfulness into curriculum and encourage creativity as a means of self-expression. Unique to the Pace model is “Spirited Girls,” a dedicated class that offers girls gentle guidance and supports their self-discovery and growth. The curriculum focuses on the developmental needs of girls, life and vocational skills, diversity, spirituality and empowerment.

“It’s not like other schools have classes like Spirited Girls. So, it’s unique. The class is different, so it should be a different environment,” shared Alexis, a Pace Miami girl in eleventh grade.

Jaliyah and Alexis’s reflections — along with the 80 girls who attend Pace Miami — inspired a dynamic cohort of 10 leadership Miami professionals, known as Genesis 305, to revamp and enhance Pace Miami’s Spirited Girls classroom.

“Due to the short time frame of our project, we were unsure that we would gain the necessary funds to put the Spirited Girls classroom together. But as we as a team continued to tell the story of Pace, more and more people saw the dream that we had for the program, and the support from the community blossomed,” shared Jessie Caceres, Events & Communications Specialist at Chapman Partnership and member of Genesis 305.

Through involvement with the Miami Chamber of Commerce, the Genesis 305 team remained steadfast in their efforts to fundraise for Pace Miami and immerse themselves in Pace’s vision.

“All of the furniture was donated for the classroom which gave us the opportunity to catapult the rest of the project to not only focus on the classroom but the school itself. It’s been an incredible experience seeing the power of community work towards this common goal,” noted Jessie.

Genesis 305 ultimately fundraised over $61,000 to support the project — accomplishing well beyond their goal. The team coined the term ‘heart work’ and repainted the entire Pace Miami building, partnered with a local muralist to develop a mural inspired by Pace girls, provided building repairs, and donated new technology.

“Pace taught us that girls learn differently, they need the space to thrive, to create, to process and decide who they will become when they leave. There is nothing more secure than a place that allows you to become a better version of yourself,” shared Ekaete Ikpeinyang, member of Genesis 305 and Director of Clinical Nursing Operations & Integration at Jackson Health System.

If you’d like to contribute to Pace’s Spirited Girls programming, or would like to learn more about how to get involved with Pace, visit: Get Involved | Pace Center for Girls 


Pace Macon Girls Express Themselves Through Art

Pace believes that all girls, regardless of their story, deserve safe and supportive spaces to heal and develop into strong, compassionate, and successful women. We incorporate self-reflection and mindfulness into curriculum and encourage creativity as a means of self-expression.   

In all its various forms, art is a powerful tool for expression. We spoke with Pace Macon girls and Rebecca Richard, Reach Program Manager at Pace Macon, about their recent participation in an art therapy session at Booker T. Washington Center in Georgia.  

Eric Gordan, an art educator from Taylor County High School, led the session and shared with girls that they were free to put on their canvases whatever spoke to them as they painted self-portraits.  

“Activities such as these create a culture of camaraderie, which is very important because often girls with trauma build a defensive wall where they keep to themselves,” shared Rebecca. “This creative therapy technique allows girls to be vulnerable.”  

The Pace Reach Program is designed to be community based and to meet girls where they’re at: in their schools, in their homes and in their communities. Our goal is to ensure that things like transportation and finances don’t become a barrier to providing the behavioral health services that girls need. 

“Only a few of these girls knew each other before this activity,” noted Rebecca. “When these girls go back to school in August, they will be able to recognize and have had a positive experience with at least one more person in their community.” 

With support from an MVP: Macon Violence Prevention grant, Pace will continue to expand its Reach Programming in Georgia by adding an additional Therapist. Girls who participate in the Pace Reach Program improve their skills and ability to make healthy decisions and reduce harmful habits to their health, wellness and safety. Pace’s holistic approach cares for their physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and relational development needs. Through these services, girls learn how to manage stress and adversities, improve personal relationships, learn new communication skills and improve school performance.   


Advancing Safe Driving Skills and Awareness with State Farm

In recognition of April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Pace Center for Girls partnered with State Farm Insurance to advance girls’ understanding of distracted driving and safe driving skills.

Pace is committed to addressing topics that improve girls’ skills and ability to make healthy decisions and reduce harmful habits to their health, wellness, and safety.  When we focus on supporting girls, they gain the power to achieve success in all areas of their lives, leading to positive outcomes for themselves, their families and communities.

Texting, talking on the phone, eating, drinking, and fiddling with music – all common activities of teenagers – can have catastrophic results when driving. In 2020, there were more than 48,000 driving crashes in Florida – 75 percent of which were caused by the driver being inattentive behind the wheel.

At Pace, our holistic approach provides girls the counseling, academic courses and life-skill training they need to make safe and healthy decisions,” said Mary Marx, president and CEO of Pace Center for Girls. “Distracted driving is a public health threat, so we are thankful to State Farm for investing in Pace and partnering with us to develop this curriculum to teach our girls passenger and driver safety skills.”

Pace Jacksonville teamed up with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and local volunteers to celebrate Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

From April 19 through 22, Pace hosted a week-long initiative across its 21 Florida locations where girls completed lessons, crafted art projects and heard from guest speakers including representatives from State Farm, and Cara Filler, America’s leading speaker on traffic safety and peer pressure. The service-learning opportunity was made possible thanks to a $85,000 statewide grant from State Farm Insurance.

Kiya was one of 50 girls who participated in the safety clinic at Pace Pinellas and shared, “Do not answer because it doesn’t matter if you get a text from your mom, your boyfriend or anyone. If you are driving and you answer that text, any second something could go wrong.”

Working with the Pace girls has been a memorable and rewarding experience,” said Jose Soto, State Farm Corporate Responsibility Analyst. “The girls have an incredible abundance of talent and creativity, and our agents enjoyed the opportunity to teach them invaluable lessons about safe driving that will build a safer, stronger and better-educated community.”

 Pace Volusia-Flagler hosted a Transportation Safety Fair to help build a safer, stronger, and better-educated community.  

The week-long programming concluded with an awareness campaign art competition. Like many of Pace’s programs, art was intentionally woven into curriculum as a powerful tool of expression. From the competition, three winners will be selected, and the statewide winning art piece will be displayed at the Florida State Capitol.