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Jun
17

Safe Spaces: Culture. Arts. Reflection.  

At Pace Center for Girls, all girls have the opportunity to engage in exploration, self-discovery, creativity and choice. Being embraced by a trusted community is an empowering moment in a girl’s life and is an important part of the Pace journey for many girls. 

When Pace girls begin to realize their inherent power, they discover a path to take charge of their own stories and futures. 

“I lift my voice every day,” shared Thomari, a Pace Polk girl. “Pace has given me that power. I don’t have to hold everything in or hold grudges, I can be the person that I am.”

We are striving toward a world where all girls can live freely in their power because we know this has not always been the case.

At a recent Jacksonville showcase in celebration of Juneteenth, Pace girls lifted their voices and used art as a means of self-reflection and recognition of the date that marked the end of slavery in 1865, two years after the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

“Each girl who presented at the Juneteenth showcase exhibited courage and focused on their strengths,” shared Chantell Miles, Executive Director of Pace Jacksonville.

Tay, a Pace Jacksonville girl, reflected on her power with a poem: “You held your head up high and refused to let it fall. You woke up each day and gave it your all. Because deep down in your heart, you knew you wouldn’t fall. I hope you keep fighting because life will get better. You always find sunshine despite the rain. Keep your head up and remember who you are. Always remember, Tay, you are the star.”

Aubrey reflected on her experience learning about Juneteenth and presented a flag that illustrates a Rosa Parks quote: “I believe we are here on the planet Earth to live, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.” 

In addition, Aubrey shared a traditional textile weaving she created in Spirited Girls, a unique class at Pace that offers girls gentle guidance and supports girls’ self-discovery and growth.  

“In Spirited Girls, we discussed the meaning of each color with the understanding that every aspect of the color and design is attended to communicate. Each of the colors holds its own meaning. The colors are red, purple, green, gold, black, blue and white. The colors are symbolic with ancestors and spiritual awareness,” shared Aubrey. 

To close out the talent portion of the showcase, Synayah sang ‘Freedom’ by Beyonce and noted, “Juneteenth means to me that everyone has an opportunity to be themselves and express themselves without any negativity.”  

Pace’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion empowers every girl to find and use their voice to create a positive impact in their community and the world. 

May
26

Creating a Culture of Health and Well-Being

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. 

Pace Jacksonville Team Members at Open House Event. Photo: Tammi McGriff
May
17

A multifaceted approach to care is essential to supporting girls. Here’s why.

When the pandemic started, Brianna began to see her world unravel — and with it, her mental health.  

Brianna loved going to school to be with friends. Although she didn’t love schoolwork, her social life helped her thrive. With schools closing due to the pandemic and more time spent at home, Brianna’s relationships began to suffer. Formerly extroverted Brianna now felt shy and reclusive.  

At her new school, a counselor connected her with Pace. When she first entered Pace, she was nervous but found that the size of the classrooms and hours of the program fit her needs. Through wrap-around, personalized behavioral health support, Brianna has taken control of her mental health journey and developed healthy coping mechanisms. She actively engages with Pace programs designed to provide support, such as TOPs — a teen outreach program — Girls Leadership Council, and has taken up running and drawing as hobbies.  

Today, Brianna is thriving as a Pace girl in Palm Beach.  

As we observe Mental Health Awareness Month this May, stories like Brianna’s — and the untold millions struggling with similar issues amid a growing youth mental health crisis — should be our call to action to take much-needed steps to support our girls and young women.  

“Mental health is the center of gravity,” said Heather Blaise, a Pace Reach program manager in Palm Beach. “Finding the support to value yourself and know yourself is foundational to living to your full potential.”  

Heather, who shared her perspective sitting next to Brianna in a Palm Beach classroom, sees firsthand the value that a community-first approach to mental health support can deliver.  

“The Pace Reach Program is designed to be community based — to go outside of the Pace day programs and meet girls where they’re at: in their schools, in their homes and in their communities,” she said. “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.”  

Barriers to access is a significant consideration in improving mental health care. Ripple effects of the pandemic including economic troubles, isolation and health problems are compounding issues that girls were already struggling with while navigating their social lives, their education and changes in their bodies. When these challenges are coupled with barriers to access, girls are left with limited places to turn.  

Complex challenges such as these must be met with a multi-faceted approach to support, which is why Pace programs are designed to meet girls where they are both physically and developmentally.  

In addition to programs like Reach, Pace employs a support system throughout our holistic approach that addresses three key pillars, including: 

● Gender-responsive: We understand girls’ unique perspectives and tailor our approach to their lived experiences.

● Strengths-based: We talk with girls about what they love and help them advance those skills.

● Trauma-informed: We know that traumatic experiences can be at the heart of behavioral issues. Approaching a girls’ lived experience with empathy and compassion is critical to healing.

“People think there is only one way to address mental health issues,” said Brianna, “but when they become more educated on the topic, they can begin to understand mental health on a deeper level.”  

Brianna’s words reflect our beliefs at Pace: positive mental health outcomes begin with communication, education and support. Every day, our exceptional team of counselors and therapists work to create safe, inclusive spaces and help girls realize and harness their power. Sharing this ethos is key to helping girls across the country navigate the ongoing mental health crisis.  

As Brianna and Heather sat together in the classroom discussing their unique perspectives on mental health, one thing is clear: there is no substitute for genuine connection and care.  

If you have a girl or young woman in your life, Mental Health Awareness Month is a great time to check-in with her. Sometimes just asking someone how she is doing can be an important step to prevention or to beginning a healing journey. If you know someone who may be a good fit for our programs, click here to learn more about Pace.  

May
05

Looking Forward: Pace Girls Share Their Aspirations for the Future

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. 

Learn more about Pace’s academic programs. 

May
04

Celebrating Pace Team Members During Teacher Appreciation Week

“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. 

Get involved with Pace and check out our current open positions