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Empowering the Next Generation of Female Leaders

Pace gives girls an opportunity to grow and learn, providing the tools to become more confident, responsible, and active community members. In March, Pace Clay girls Emily and Lilly attended the Feedback+Jacksonville Peer Learning Session, where they learned from local nonprofits and community leaders and were empowered to share their vision for a Jacksonville that listens to girls.

Emily, a ninth-grade student who has attended Pace for more than a year, took away a valuable lesson from the session: feedback matters. Emily uses this learning every day in her role as President of the Pace Clay Girls Leadership Council (GLC) alongside the Vice President, Lilly. The GLC promotes Pace in their community, serves as role models at school, and plans events and presentations for their peers. Emily’s core responsibility on the Council is to be “a voice for the voices of the girls.” She says: “I’m making a change. I’m advocating for me and for them so it makes me really happy to let them know that they’re not alone and that they have me here for them.”

Lilly, a tenth-grade student who has attended Pace for eleven months, shared that she learned “there are many parts that go into making community improvements.” This is certainly a lesson Lilly has taken to heart during her time at Pace. By engaging in the Pace Clay community and taking advantage of the services that are available to her, she has excelled. She has progressed from middle school to tenth grade in less than a year at Pace and serves as Vice President of the Pace Clay Girls Leadership Council.

As the Vice President, Lilly is responsible for collecting and responding to feedback from her peers. She incorporates what she learned at the Feedback+Jacksonville event, saying “I respond to feedback by letting the girls know what can be changed or why it can’t.” Lilly is also proud of the presentations she has put on for her peers. This year, she has presented on breast cancer awareness and on the effects of nicotine in young adults.

The leadership experiences available to Pace girls like Emily and Lilly help girls envision the future they want for both their communities and for themselves. For Lilly, the GLC has shown her what having responsibility looks like, helping build confidence in her leadership skills. This confidence will serve her well as she hopes to one day become a medical sonographer – helping expecting parents and other people in the community.

Through the GLC, Emily has learned “to advocate for myself and others” and “to think outside the box.” She hopes to join the Air Force, and then go to college to become a family lawyer. From advocating for her peers at Pace to one day advocating for families in the courtroom, Pace’s lessons on leadership will impact Emily for years to come.

But beyond their personal goals, Emily and Lilly use what they have learned at Pace to envision a better North Florida for everyone. Lilly hopes for a “future in North Florida where girls can have a voice.” Emily dreams of “a safer place for girls where we can walk down the streets without fearing that anything will happen to us.” She wants everyone to “respect girls no matter what we are wearing because we are not objects, and clothes don’t define us.” With Emily and Lilly leading the way, North Florida is certainly on the right track.

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Are you a girl who’s interested in Pace? Know a girl who may benefit from our programs? Click here to learn more about life at Pace and how you can enroll.


Meet Four Pace Girls Making a Difference in Their Community

Sophia, Alyssa, Katlyn and Olivia are part of the Girls Leadership Council (GLC) at Pace Broward. As November is the month of midterm elections and voting, the girls connected to discuss the importance of civic engagement. 

Before finding Pace, Sophie was dealing with self-confidence issues and struggling with attending school “I used to be like a turtle. They go in their shell all the time and they get scared, that was me,” she said. After finding Pace, Sophia became more passionate about education, and in the future, she plans on joining the Air Force, since her grandfather was a Marine. 

Alyssa found out about Pace through the Reach program. “I’ve been able to get the credits that I need,” she said. “The teachers are really helpful, and they don’t make me feel uncomfortable with asking for help at any moment.” 

Olivia was struggling with focusing in school and completing her homework. After she found out about Pace through her therapist, she came to Broward, and her ability to complete her assignments improved dramatically. 

Katlyn found out about Pace through family and friends as she was looking for a space to help improve her mental health. In the future, Katlyn sees herself becoming a theater actress.  

As members of the GLC, the girls practice advocating and finding their voice within the safe walls of their classrooms. They inspire change, mentor younger and/or new girls, engage with public officials to share their stories and promote the needs of all girls. 

Girls learned about the importance of exercising their right to vote by participating in a mock election.

“I can advocate for the girls in a way that the staff can’t,” Sophia said. “I can help bring concerns up and provide staff with more understanding.” 

“I feel like our role is to set a good example for the other girls,” Alyssa said. 

One example of the members of the GLC sharing their concerns is when Katlyn was invited to a homecoming from a different school and a few of the girls came together to sign a petition requesting a homecoming for Broward. They shared the petition with staff, and it is currently in review. 

“We’re just trying to get things to help the girls see that Pace is an amazing place,” Katlyn said. 

Alyssa, Member of Pace Broward’s Girls Leadership Council

Another example of the members advocating for change involved Alyssa bringing attention to the city bus hours.

“A lot of us girls take the city bus. We needed to get out earlier in time for the bus. Certain girls would have to go home early only because they were making it home like six, seven o’clock at night because of where they were living at and all of that. Because I’m in the GLC, I was able to bring this issue to the attention of staff faster. When the bus schedules change, Ms. Orlane looked at the schedule and made sure there was a balance for us. Instead of getting out at 2:50 pm, we now get out at 2:42 pm.” 

When the girls have a complaint, they set up a meeting with the staff to discuss their concerns and have an open and honest discussion of how to address them. 

“It’s being a voice for the other girls when talking to the staff,” Olivia said. “I try and take everyone’s well-being into account when we have the meetings. I think about how this affects the other students.” 

Some of the girls dealt with cyberbullying and to combat this issue, the members of the GLC came together to create a bully box, where girls can anonymously share their stories of bullying and harassment. This has helped to uplift girls’ voices and curb the issue of bullying dramatically.  

In the coming months, the GLC at Pace Broward will elect a president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary. They will build a campaign and engage directly with the girls, encouraging them to vote for who they believe will serve each position best. 

As the girls prepare for their own campaigns, they discussed the importance of civic engagement within their community. 

“It’s important to have representation,” Sophia said. “It’s like a way to provide a set of rules within the community.” 

“Voting is a right,” Alyssa said. “Everyone has the right to be heard and their opinions are to be listened to.” 

“What I envision for women in the future is that people don’t see them as weak and people won’t see women below men,” Olivia said. “We should be seen as equals to them.” 

“I want women to know that they can do anything that they put their mind to and they don’t have to stay hidden because a man or even another woman brings them down,” Katlyn said. 

Are you a girl who’s interested in Pace? Know a girl who may benefit from our programs? Click here to learn more about life at Pace and how you can enroll.


Native American Heritage Month at Pace

This November for Native American Heritage Month, Pace Center for Girls is not only celebrating our girls, but we’re also shining the spotlight on our team. We interviewed Wimberly Raban, Office Manager at Pace Collier at Immokalee, about her Navajo heritage. Here are some highlights from our interview.  

Q: How long have you been at Pace, and what do you do?

Wimberly: I’ve been here at Pace for five years. I originally started as a substitute teacher and then I moved into the Spirited Girls role [as the teacher], and then eventually I became the Office Manager, which is my current position. I like to interact with the girls when I get a chance. At the beginning, that’s where I was – in the classroom with the girls and learning from their experience and me telling them of my experiences.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your Native American heritage?

Wimberly: I’m 100% Navajo. I’m from Fruitland, New Mexico. I grew up there on the reservation and both my parents are full Navajo. Growing up we helped our parents and grandparents in the fields, growing corn, watermelon, and vegetables for the family. And we also herded sheep.

We helped raise our brothers and sisters who are all our cousins basically. [Wimberly clarified: They’re not my natural brothers or sisters, but that’s how we [Navajos] relate to each other.]

We helped our parents and grandparents any way we could – because that’s how we were raised to be.

Q: What does being Native American mean to you?

Wimberly: Being Native American gives me pride. My parents instilled in me to go to school to make something of yourself and live a better life than what they grew up with. And to go off the reservation and see what’s out there in the world. And the main thing was to get an education and then one day come back and teach our people what we’ve learned. I’m part of four clans:

  • Redgoat – Mother’s side
  • Red Streak – Dad’s side
  • Salt –  People with this clan are considered my grandma
  • Running by the Water – People with this clan are considered my grandpa

To me, being Native American is about being a positive role model for our family and our relatives to show our cousins that you can go to school and do something different than what our parents grew up with.

Q: How does that inform your work at Pace?

It’s interesting that the girls look at me and they speak to me in Spanish, and I look at them like, “I don’t speak any Spanish! No habla español.” And they look at me like, “Why were you not taught Spanish?” I’m like, “I’m Native American.” They ask: “What does that mean?” And I say: “I’m Navajo, I’m an Indian.”

Where I’m at, here in Immokalee, I’m fortunate enough that the Seminole tribe is close by. I previously worked for the tribe, so I do know some of the people there and for the girls that are Native American that come to Pace, I do know their parents. So that gives us a connection and a bond, so they feel connected with me.

Q: What are your favorite parts about being Native American?

Wimberly: When you meet other Native Americans, it’s really interesting. When I worked for the Seminole tribe, the first person I met there was asking me where I went to high school. I’m like, “What do you mean, where did I go to high school? I went to high school in New Mexico!” She goes: “Yeah, I know you said that. But where?” I said “Farmington,” because that’s the nearest city. She finally said she was a Chieftain. I stepped back from her and said “Well, I’m a Bronco!” That was our rival school. And we started laughing.

It’s so funny because you can meet Native Americans all over, especially in Navajo. They’re just everywhere. What’s funny about that experience is that she was telling me about her best friend, and she brought me a high school yearbook. I said: “That girl looks familiar!” Her best friend and my best friend are sisters. And her dad worked with my mom. How crazy is that? It’s a small world. And it’s just amazing.

Q: November is Native American Heritage Month! How does your Pace center celebrate this important month? Are there any ways in particular that you celebrate at home during the month of November?

Wimberly: At home, we celebrate our heritage every day! When we celebrate Native American Heritage Month at Pace, we typically dress up in our culture and talk to the girls about what it means to be Native American.

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. Get involved with Pace and check out our current  open positions!  


A Girl-lead Art Response To Combat Substance Abuse

1 out of 3 girls who are enrolled in a Pace Program self-reported substance abuse. Increasing access to health and holistic wellness for girls is of critical importance, as mental health and substance use rates have risen substantially due to the prolonged global pandemic.

Pace girls and renowned muralist, Nico, co-created a mural titled You Belong Hereto send a message of acceptance, shared experience, worth and inclusion. The project was designed to be a healing experience that allowed for full freedom of expression. Each element on the mural was intentionally designed by the young artists. Imagery represents the girls’ cultures, experiences, personalities, and visions of their future selves.

“I designed myself, but how I see myself in the future. My girl is spray painting ‘Mahal Kita,’ which means ‘I love you’ in Tagalog. My mom is Filipino, and she used to say it to me as a child. I want to send a message to other girls that you have a chance. You deserve to come to Pace and get a second chance in life.” —Adrianna, 12

“My favorite part of this experience was spray painting on the wall. My character’s name is ‘Cloud.’ She has a skin condition that changes parts of her skin color. I designed her like this because I want to send a message of inclusion. Her clothes represent that everyone has a different style.” — Natalie, 14

“Creating a mural with Nico and the other girls was an empowering experience for me. Sharing my story through art expression allowed for new healing. It is exciting to know that our work and my experiences will help uplift other girls going through difficult times.” — Jossmaire, 15

Our girls recognize they have an important role to play as young leaders — raising their voices through art to make a difference in their communities. And more importantly, they believe they can ignite future generations, as changemakers and inspiration for future Pace girls.

Visit here to learn more about the girls’ inspiration for their artwork.

The PLAYERS Championship Village’s partnership with Pace continues the work and advances the mission and purpose of The Village, which is a not-for-profit organization that was formed in 1987, to provide drug and alcohol treatment recovery for youth aged 13 to 17 who could not afford treatment through for-profit facilities.


Celebrating International Day of the Girl 

Pace Center for Girls joins the United Nations and global communities in commemorating the 10th Anniversary of International Day of the Girl, celebrated annually on October 11. 

Pace has focused attention on the need to address the global challenges girls face and led the charge on women’s empowerment since 1985, with more than 40,000 girls and 23 communities served to date. Yet, the need for communities to unite in support of girls and young women with a common vision of a just and equitable society remains prevalent. 

As part of the Community Solutions program, Pace is hosting Thinley Wangmo Lama, a fellow from Nepal. Read a message from Thinley in honor of International Day of the Girl: 

Thinley Wangmo Lama with CEO Mary Marx

Dreaming Big Through Humble Beginnings 

Guest author: Thinley Wangmo Lama, CSP Fellow 2022 

My family belongs to Limi Valley, a remote village in the northwestern part of Nepal bordering the Tibetan Autonomous Region. My grandparents lived a nomadic life and were sheep and yak herders. My father, being the eldest son, took the responsibility to offer us a better life. And he struggled hard to educate us and finally moved the entire family to Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. I was born in Limi Valley and moved to the city when I was 4 years old.  

Limi Valley Nepal
Limi Valley, Nepal

I feel blessed to have received an education and a better life because many women of my age group in Limi Valley are still unable to read and write as well as struggling with the village lifestyle. Now, I have reached a stage in life where I can financially support my family and help with my community development. I treasure my humble beginnings and always live my life filled with gratitude.  

My experiences have shaped me into who I am today. I am a visionary person and have a sense of responsibility to give back to the community.  

I would describe myself in three words: ambitious, hardworking, and compassionate.  

➔   Ambition: My ambition has led me to apply for the Community Solutions Program (CSP), sponsored by the US Department of State and implemented by IREX, through which I got the opportunity to come to the U.S and work with Pace Center for Girls for 4 months. Thus, I am getting the opportunity to learn about the administrative and functional areas of a non-profit organization as I plan to start my own for underprivileged women in Nepal.  

➔   Hard work: I believe working hard is the key to success. We are all given a certain amount of opportunity in our lives, whether it is big or small — your willpower and hard work will determine the end goal. I have faith in myself that my hard work will help me achieve my dreams.  

➔   Compassion: If you ask my friends, family, and colleagues to describe me as a person, most of them would draw me as a compassionate and kind person. I also believe the same because helping others gives me the most sense of satisfaction compared to everything else, I do in my life. This is the reason behind my initiative to offer education to the women in my village and take part in social welfare activities. Currently, less than 10% of the female population is literate in Limi Valley. My goal is to reach an 80% female literacy rate in the next 5 years.  

Thinley Wangmo Lama with women from her village
Thinley Wangmo Lama with women participating in her female literacy program.

I am a strong believer in lifelong learning and have faith that everyone is capable of growth and change if given the opportunity. But my life has not always been like this. All of us face different challenges and we struggle to overcome them.  

In my case,  

  1. Until high school, I used to lack confidence and did not believe in myself.  
  1. In college, I struggled with relationships and faced many conflicts which led to losing close friends.  
  1. Until now, I am learning how to become an effective communicator and a good public speaker.  

Have I overcome all my shortcomings? No, but it is a work in progress. Over time, I have realized that life is about learning at every stage and embracing the changes. Hence, I admire and try to live by the quote “this too shall pass.” I hope welcoming this quote into your lives makes a difference.  

I am grateful to be part of this program where I can sharpen my skills, embrace growth and change and focus on my strengths. I am fortunate to be part of Pace Center for Girls vision where all girls and young women have Power, in a Just and Equitable society. This vision will reach more women in Nepal through my learnings at Pace.

Thus, I would like to conclude, by wishing you all “Happy International Day of the Girl.”