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Jun
23

Pace Graduates Share Next Chapter and Parting Wisdom

Pace Center for Girls, Lee recently celebrated the hard work and accomplishments of eight Pace girls, their largest graduating class.

The ceremony is a huge milestone achievement for Pace girls, who have overcome various personal and academic trials in order to complete high school.

Embellished in glitter and bold colors, each girl’s graduation cap was personalized with an inspirational message that reflected on their own individual journey. One cap read “with patience you grow, you heal, and you learn,” while another one quoted “girls with dreams become women with vision.”

Priority Marketing President and Chief Creative Officer Teri Hansen delivered the commencement address and special messages to each Pace girl before graduates took the stage to receive their diploma and custom gift, followed by a tassel ceremony.

“All of us have chapters of struggle or chapters of pain, as well as chapters of triumph and chapters of defeat,” stated Hansen during her speech. “The key is understanding that no one chapter is the entirety of our story, and as long as we live and breathe, we have the ability to write a new chapter and make our story better.”

Turning the page to their next chapter in life, these inspiring young women shared their parting wisdom and words of encouragement to help guide the next girl who finds herself in similar shoes.

Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?

“It’s okay to cry and talk about your feelings.” – Alexis

With the help of Pace, Alexis was able to transform her life, both physically and mentally. She plans to pursue a career in the real estate field, with her newborn daughter as motivation by her side.

“Be confident and love yourself.” – Alicia

Through tremendous strength and support, Alicia paved her way to becoming a first-generation college student. She has already started college courses and plans to pursue a career in the medical field.

“Be proud of yourself.” – Ciera

At Pace, Ciera was able to shift her mindset and overcome negative self-talk. Her next chapter includes continuing her education to pursue a career in the medical field.

“You can do whatever you put your mind to.” – Dallise

Pace helped Dallise see her full potential and achieve a happier life. Her sights are set on a career in cosmetology or with a veterinary practice.

“If you believe in yourself, anything is possible.” – Destiny

At a time of anger and rebellion, Destiny found the support she needed to transform into a confident young woman and dream big. Her plans are to pursue a career in her passion of cosmetology.

“Everything happens for a reason.” – Piper

Piper thrived at Pace and studied diligently so she could graduate early. She plans to pursue a career in emergency medical services.

Mar
02

Supporting Girls During Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month

Nationally, nearly 10% of all teenagers are impacted by teen dating violence. In Florida alone, 8.4% of students experienced physical dating violence and 9.6% of students reported being threatened, controlled, or made to feel unsafe by someone they were dating.

During National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, Pace joined partners and educators across the country to teach girls and young women how to recognize and prevent the dangers of dating violence.

Pace Pinellas welcomed Hands Across Tampa Bay for an important breakfast training on the importance of healthy relationships during Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month!

Too often existing systems, like education and mental health care, fail to address the needs of girls who have experienced trauma, like that from dating violence. That’s why at Pace, our team of counselors and educators work to fully understand our girls — including their unique strengths, experiences as young women, and even trauma — when developing individualized plans of care.

Heidi, Pace Pinellas’ development manager, stated:

“We’re grateful to partner with Hands Across the Bay because they’re shining examples of kindness and advocacy in our community. Especially during Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, their message of healthy relationships and strength resonate with our girls and empower them to make good decisions for themselves as they navigate relationships during their teenage years.”

Teen relationships can be incredibly complicated, so it is valuable for anyone who interacts with girls and young women to learn the signs of abusive behavior and what it means to be in a healthy relationship. If someone you know might be harmed by teen dating violence, here are a few do’s and don’ts from the Florida Department of Education to support them:

DO:

  • Listen to what the student, family or friend is saying without interrupting.
  • Find out what the person would like to do about the relationship and support them regardless of her decision.
  • Let them know that you will be there for them if they ever need you and share that abuse usually gets worse over time.
  • Expect the person to be confused about their feelings and about what to do. Expect them to change their mind, maybe even a few times.
  • Watch your body language and respect the person’s right to privacy and personal space.
  • Help the person become informed of available resources, such as the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline (1-866-331-9474) or the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-500-1119).
  • Decide how you should proceed with informing any other people, especially if you believe the person who confided in you safety may be in danger.

DO NOT:

  • Judge the person.
  • Give advice. Instead, talk to them about the choices they have and help them find people able to help.
  • Ask unnecessary questions. The person sharing her experience may shut down if she feels she is being pressed to share information that she isn’t ready to talk about.
  • Overreact.
  • Confront the person who was causing harm.  abusive partner about the abuse. Confronting the person calming harm may put you and the person harmed in danger.

During this month and every month, we believe all girls — regardless of their story — deserve safe and inclusive spaces to heal from the traumas they face. Through the Pace Reach program, we offer supportive therapy and counseling specifically designed for girls in middle and high school in a variety of convenient, easy-to-access locations. With our holistic approach, our girls strengthen their interpersonal skills and learn coping skills that help them overcome past trauma and look toward the future.

Learn more about our Reach Program and the services we offer for teen girls.

Sep
27

Elevating the Voice of the Girl

When working with girls and young women, it is important to understand the implications of Gender Pathways Theory.  This theory demonstrates that girls are often involved with the justice system for different reasons than boys, including the type of offenses, the reasons behind the behavior, and how the offenses are carried out.  The most common reasons women and young girls head down this path include victimization, mental health issues, and substance abuse.  In fact, sexual abuse is one of the primary predictors of justice system involvement for girls.  Therefore, prevention and early intervention strategies to steer women and young girls away from and out of the justice system must include holistic treatment designed specifically for girls who have experienced trauma, rather than punitive environments and practices that may likely cause additional trauma.

Gender-responsive models have key program elements aimed at enhancing protective factors. Protective factors are internal and external resources, such as positive adult relationships, problem-solving skills, and a sense of hope, that help minimize the impact of stress and adversity.  Understanding the existing gender differences during development, such as learning style and relational preferences, helps build an environment where girls can thrive.  

Creating emotional and physical safety is a core component of our model.  This sense of safety is woven throughout the design of the program space by spending time and energy developing authentic connections between girls and team members and providing girls choices to take ownership for themselves.  Effective gender-responsive models are collaborative, share power with girls, and give girls opportunities to use their voice and grow as leaders. A focus on understanding the intersection of multiple identities, such as race, gender, and sexual identity, and celebrating each girl’s sense of culture are also critical to the success of the program.

The outcome we hope to achieve is for girls to feel empowered, gain a sense of mastery, and focus on healing through goal planning that is steered by the girls themselves.  Girls bring with them a voice and successful gender-responsive programming provides elevation and amplification of those voices.

May
27

Improving Teen Mental Health is Critical for Healthy Long-Term Growth & Development

The COVID-19 pandemic intensified an existing societal issue that has been on the rise for years: teen depression. Over the past three decades, there has been a significant increase in teen depression due in part to environmental factors such as social media use and peer relationships. 

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Feb
18

The Importance of Addressing COVID-19 Trauma with our Youth

Over the last year, mental health concerns became real to millions across America. As the coronavirus pandemic intensified social and economic anxieties, the Journal of American Medicine tracked the surge in mental health decline, stating “the effect of COVID-19 deaths on mental health will be profound” in an October 2020 report. Many who suffered were our youth, when schools moving to virtual learning caused achievement gaps to widen for students among low socioeconomic backgrounds.

…View Full Story “The Importance of Addressing COVID-19 Trauma with our Youth”