Pace Center for Girls is a proud recipient of the Healthiest Companies Platinum Award presented by the First Coast Worksite Wellness Council. The award recognizes Pace’s dedication to creating a culture of health and well-being.
“Our staff cannot care for our girls unless we care for them first,” shared Yessica Cancel, Chief Operating Officer at Pace. “Our focus on health and wellness represents an investment in our staff that goes beyond their time at work.”
Pace’s leadership team is committed to investing in resources that support team members holistically. In addition to PTO benefits, team members receive a week off for wellness annually. This year an added benefit at no cost to team members is Modern Health, a mental well-being platform offering therapy, coaching, and self-guided courses all in one app.
“Pace does an amazing job of assisting in well-being so we can fill our cups,” shared Lena Neal, Academic Manager at Pace Manatee. “We need to be our best selves for our girls and to do that we need to care for ourselves.”
Company-wide actions and care, described as Pace Fit Wellness Challenges and Incentives, are designed to reset, refresh, and reinforce team members’ minds and spirits. To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, we asked team members what mental health means to them.
“I practice mental health and well-being by reading and spending time with my favorite people. I walk every day; it helps me clear my head and unwind,” shared Barbra Burt, Contracts Analyst at Pace.
Looking for a few easy habits to help build your mental strength and resilience? Find a series of personalized meditation tools developed and narrated by Naomi Osaka, made available for free by our friends at Modern Health.
At Pace, we celebrate all our girls’ successes as they look towards the future! College Signing Day is celebrated on May 7, an initiative presented by Better Make Room that aims to inspire students to reach higher. This day celebrates all students committed to pursuing an education past high school, whether at a professional training program, the military, a community college or a four-year college or university.
We sat down with three Pace girls who shared their interests and aspirations for the future:
“Coming to Pace really helped me. I learned that if the people around you aren’t helping you grow, they shouldn’t be in your life,” said Karimah from Pace Palm Beach. “After Pace, I want to go to college. I like psychology and criminology a lot. I like thinking about what people think, and why they’re thinking it. I also love writing — it’s so fun to me. If I could do anything in the world without any constraints, I would be a writer. I’m not sure career-wise, but there are so many opportunities.”
Quinn from Pace Escambia-Santa Rosa shared: “My passion is music, music theory, and teaching others what’s fun about music. My love of music came from my dad. He had a little area in our house where he had all his instruments. He taught me to play so many things on the guitar, and really finding how much I loved it came from him.
Before Pace, I didn’t accept help for a long time. I was in denial. Finally, I decided to go into a GED program, and I graduated with really good scores in about a month. I’m focused on [applying to] Pensacola State College because my dad’s old music teacher is still there. I want to learn under him and eventually teach students music theory.”
Idali, also from Pace Palm Beach, explained: “After Pace, I want to go to college. Currently, I work at Starbucks, and they have this program where they pay for tuition for Arizona State online. I want to take advantage of free college. I want to learn something in psychology or sociology. Growing up, I watched a lot of shows on law enforcement, which gave me a passion to be a profiler and to study how humans think and behave. I’m interested in joining law enforcement, and that’s my dream.”
Since 1985, Pace has supported more than 40,000 girls with our personalized approach, empowering girls to reach their highest potential and showing them that a life of love, success and happiness is possible. At Pace, seven out of 10 teen girls graduate from high school, pursue higher education or secure employment, and nine out of 10 have experienced overall academic improvement.
“I really appreciate Ms. Kathy. She played a big role in me graduating. She was the one that contacted my old school to set me up right. She’s been there every step of the way. I can’t thank her enough. She’s number one. She’s my rock.” — Tyra from Pace Polk
At Pace, our team of dedicated teachers, counselors, therapists, and directors foster safe, supportive, and inclusive environments for our girls to help them reach their goals.
During Teacher Appreciation Week, join us in celebrating the hundreds of teachers who inspire confidence, ignite imagination and instill a love of learning in our girls.
Four Pace girls shared their appreciation for their favorite teachers:
“One of the main supporters I’ve had at Pace is Mr. Walter,” shared Quinn from Pace Escambia-Santa Rosa. “Mr. Walter was the first person I told when I passed the GED test. He’s like a dad to me, since I didn’t have one growing up. He’s pushed me to be my best, and he really showed me how proud he is of me — that I am finding myself and finding what I love doing.”
Idali and Karimah both shared gratitude for Mr. Christie, a history teacher and academic advisor at Pace Palm Beach.
“Mr. Christie has so much faith in me. He always makes sure that everyone feels safe in the classroom — that’s his priority,” said Idali. “I came to Pace because I was doing really bad at academics. My grades were really low because I was skipping classes and didn’t care about my classes. As soon as I came to Pace, they’ve helped me a lot. I’m on track to graduate next year.”
“Mr. Christie is the best. He’s a history teacher, and he’s always giving us the most valuable information,” added Karimah. “He’s like an encyclopedia — he knows so much. I’ve learned so much about the world and the state it’s in right now, and I’m so grateful to him.”
Every day, our team of counselors, therapists and educators advocate for our girls’ physical and mental health and help them thrive and grow, creating brighter futures for all. Since 1985, more than 40,000 teen girls and young women have had the opportunity to achieve their own success, leading to positive outcomes for themselves, their families and communities.
Join us in celebrating all team members for their continued commitment to create strong girls and strong communities.
Pace joins communities across the country in recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).
On Denim Day, April 27, 2022, the longest running sexual violence prevention and education campaign in history, McKenzie Marsch, Special Projects Manager at Pace Palm Beach, participated in a panel discussion hosted by Palm Beach County Victim Services.
Denim Day asks community members, elected officials, and businesses to wear denim to combat victim blaming and educate others about sexual violence. McKenzie participated in the panel discussion on behalf of Palm Beach County’s Girls Coordinating Council.
“Representing the Girls Coordinating Council of Palm Beach County, I had the opportunity to share why we should decrease discomfort related to discussing sexual assault and consent and the importance of leading with the ‘start by believing’ mindset,” shared McKenzie.
Since 2017, Girls Coordinating Councils (GCC) have been formed, like the one in Palm Beach, in various counties throughout Florida and Georgia. The Girls Coordinating Council is a community collaborative focusing on reforming and strengthening the system of care for girls and young women.
Change begins when girls get the help they need to further their education, strengthen their relationships, interpersonal skills, and learn healthy coping mechanisms that help them overcome past trauma and look toward the future.
At Pace, we believe communities are stronger when girls and women have the opportunity to thrive. We sat down with one Pace alumna Alivia from Macon, GA who reflected on her experience with Pace and her journey to where she is today.
How did you find Pace?
My family and I had been facing some challenges — a lot of it came from financial struggles.
My family was dealing with substance abuse and my nieces and nephew were dropping out of school.
The tipping point was the eviction, which hit me really hard. When we were forced out, the people took everything — my clothes, my laptop, all the things I needed for school, and I felt guilty. I prided myself on being an overachieving 16-year-old, and I believed I could have done something to prevent this situation.
After the eviction, we moved into my grandparents’ house. I had to adjust and refigure out everything. When we were first there, there were 10 people in a house meant for four. After a long battle of caring for my grandmother, she passed away, another big loss for my family. I knew I couldn’t do this on my own, but I also didn’t feel I had the support I needed from my family at that time.
A mentor of mine recommended that I reach out to Pace and talk to someone.
What did you learn at Pace?
[At Pace] I learned the value of self-care. I learned my worth and how to give myself the credit I deserve. My favorite quote that my counselor Rebecca told me was: “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” She helped me reframe my circumstances and find the positive in every situation. She reinforced my determination to never give up. I learned to prioritize myself and my mental health on the path to self discovery. I am the most resilient person I know and because of Pace, I can recognize that.
Where are you now?
I’m a freshman at Fort Valley State in the cooperative developmental energy program, which is a dual-degree program where I am pursuing my bachelor’s in math and a master’s in engineering. I’ve always been a math and science person, I’ve always been good with my hands, and I love building things.
I also have a couple of businesses. I’m learning to do acrylic nails, and I’ve done some graphic design. I designed the flyers for the student government association executive board campaign, which helped the campaign win the election.
In February, you recentlytestified at a budget committee meeting at the Georgia State Legislature to help Pace increase funding for its programs in the state. How was that experience?
When I arrived at the legislature meeting, it set in that this was a big deal. However, when I started to testify, my nerves settled. It was interesting to see people care about my story so much. At times, I don’t realize how much I’ve gone through, because I don’t want it to define me, but my story is important. I hope it can inspire others to recognize the power of their own story.
As we reflect during Women’s History Month, is there a woman who has supported you to get to where you are today?
I would say my mentor Ms. Geneva West, who is the Founder ofReal I.M.P.A.C.T Center, Inc. — an all-girls STEM organization. After I completed that program, I decided to give back. I taught coding classes, instructed curriculum involving STEM, and even coached a robotics team. Ms. West has taken me under her wing and exposed me to so many events and speaking opportunities. She’s been a really positive person in my life — even helping me through the college application process. She’s amazing.
Another person that comes to mind is my mom. I love my mom. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I’ve seen how her confidence has developed and how she’s trying every day to be better. I admire her for that. Despite many challenges we have faced, I am overly thankful to my parents for raising me to become the person I am today. My love for my family is strong, and I pray every day we grow into the best version of ourselves.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Honestly, I’d probably say, stop being so hard on yourself. You’re doing great. I’m celebrating my strengths, and I’ve learned that vulnerability is one of them. Give yourself the credit you deserve and know that you can keep pushing. Know that whatever you’re going through, you can make it through.
In 2019, Pace expanded into Georgia, offering services to help girls learn healthy coping skills, overcome past trauma and look toward the future. Teen girls who participate in the program improve their skills and ability to make safe, healthy decisions that enable them to be strong, compassionate and successful women. Learn more about the services Pace offers in Georgia.